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Indians 8, A’s 0: 20 Walk-Off Thoughts on Andrew Miller, Jonathan Lucroy and also a baseball game

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 31, 2016

Here are 20 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians defeated the A’s 8-0 Sunday afternoon.

1. But, mostly, here are 20 Walk-Off Thoughts on a crazy trade deadline day that included one major deal completed and one major deal vetoed.

2. Also, here are today’s two stories, for more coverage, one detailing the trades themselves—including perspective from president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona—and one on the clubhouse’s reaction to the front office being aggressive—after talking with Jason Kipnis, Mike Napoli and Cody Allen. And here's a complete transcript of what Antonetti and Francona had to say.

3. Well, the Indians are going for it. Acquiring All-Star reliever Andrew Miller is exactly the type of move fans have wanted. He’s one of the elite arms in baseball and will make $9 million a year through the 2018 season—which lines up perfectly with so many other key pieces who are under club control at least through that year, one of the key reasons Miller had such high value.

4. He’s also a perfect fit into the Indians’ bullpen. He and Cody Allen offer a right-left, 1-2 punch, and one of the best in baseball at that. Both pitchers seem willing to handle either a setup or closer’s role, giving the Indians added versatility. But, for now, the Indians can handle any close game knowing those two are available, along with Bryan Shaw. Combine that with the best starting rotation in the AL? It’s a good recipe.

5. Giving up Justus Sheffield was largely the Indians dealing from a position of depth. He’s a strong prospect, but the Indians do have a number of high-ranking pitching prospects and also have a deep starting rotation all under control through at least the 2020 season. The piece that really hurt was Clint Frazier, who was arguably the No. 1 prospect in the system. The Indians keep Bradley Zimmer, also an outfielder and one of the top 25-30 prospects in baseball, but Frazier is a power bat with a bright future.

6. With Miller, the Indians not only bolster their claim as being the team to beat in the American League, they add a lot of value for 2017 and 2018. And, it’s not always wise to think like this in August, but having a lethal back-end of the bullpen can have even more of a game-by-game impact in the postseason, when more off days are built into the schedule.

7. The Indians are all in, but it’s for the next three seasons, not just this year. And through 2020 looks bright as well, with Zimmer and others included in that picture.



(My apologies that this is the only video, and it’s shaky. In the “Crap Happens” category, about two minutes before the press conferences, my pen exploded and my dominant hand was covered in ink, not all of it dried. Of course.)

8. Now, on to Lucroy, who delivered a punch to the gut of Indians fans. There was additional excitement around the Miller news because late Saturday night the Indians and Brewers agreed to a deal for Lucroy. Except, Lucroy has a no-trade clause, which gives him leverage. And with it, he vetoed the trade.

9. The Indians were willing to trade eight prospects—most of them in their top 30—for two All-Stars. Except, Lucroy doesn’t want to come to Cleveland, in part because he’s worried about playing time next year, which would be a free-agency year for him. That news actually was broken on Twitter while Antonetti and Francona were speaking about Miller.

10. Lucroy’s no-trade clause could be looked at in a couple ways. The first is that he didn’t do anything he wasn’t allowed to as per his written contract. Players negotiate no-trade clauses for plenty of reasons, one of them being for leverage in times like these. He’s also a catcher who just turned 30, so he doesn’t have many opportunities left to find a long-term deal. As much as nobody wants to hear that, as a pro athlete, it is important to cash in while you can. The other side is that Lucroy would have been dealt from a rebuilding team to a legitimate World Series contender, and while he might not have caught every day, his bat would have been in the everyday lineup as a first baseman or DH.

11. Said Corey Kluber, “I don’t know the specifics of why he chose to use that no-trade, but he had that in his contract, so that’s his right. As far as we’re concerned, we’ll move forward with the guys we do have here.”

12. So, unless Lucroy changes his mind, the Indians will have to look for another alternative at catcher and/or another bat to add to the lineup, perhaps someone like Steve Pearce from Tampa Bay, an outfielder/first baseman who crushes lefties and would fit in nicely with Lonnie Chisenhall.

13. Also, the Indians won on Sunday and are now 60-42 and still own the best record in the American League.

14. Kluber was dominant again, throwing seven scoreless innings and striking out seven. He’s now gone at least seven innings in each of last four starts. He’s also been nearly unhittable at home lately, going 4-0 with an 0.29 ERA in his last four home starts.

15. A good sign for the Indians has not only been Kluber’s success, but his positive relationship on the field with catcher Roberto Perez. Kluber and Gomes have been tied together for several years, but Kluber hasn’t seemed to miss a step with Perez behind the plate.

16. Said Kluber, “I think we had experience working together last year when Yan was injured last year. We went through some struggles at the beginning, but I think that we worked at it and got to the point where we were comfortable with each other. I think that he’s told me, would probably tell you as well, that he was a little hesitant at first. He didn’t want to put down the wrong fingers. I told him, ‘Hey, just go out there and call the game like you normally would. If I don’t like it, I’ll shake it off.’ I think once we got to that point, he was a lot more comfortable, I was a lot more comfortable, and it’s worked well.”



17. And said Indians manager Terry Francona, “And that’s not the easiest thing in the world. Going into a couple starts ago, Yan had caught I want to say almost every inning of every inning he’s pitched. I’m sure Berto knows that, and he’s worked hard to find a comfort zone and I also think Kluber has done a good job of allowing Roberto to relax back there and not feel like he’s on pins and needles. We’ve all seen where that’s the case, where you’ve got a starting pitcher that’s got a pretty good resume and he makes the guy behind there nervous. That doesn’t help anything.”

18. Perez reached base three times on Sunday (RBI-single, two walks). The struggles for Indians catchers at the plate this season have been well documented, another reason Lucroy rejecting the trade hurt. While Perez hasn’t collected many hits, he has been drawing walks, and is beginning to feel a bit more comfortable at the plate.

19. Said Perez, “I’ve been feeling a lot better lately. Just need couple more ABs. Since [the] surgery I didn’t get many ABs in the rehab assignment but I’m healthy now. I’m ready to contribute.”

20. Jason Kipnis drove in three runs Sunday, and is now hitting .344 in the month of July. He didn’t have the torrid first half he had last season, but has begun to heat up.

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Indians, Corey Kluber dominate A’s 8-0 to complete sweep

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 31, 2016

The Indians and Corey Kluber had an easy time with the Oakland A’s on Sunday afternoon, cruising to an 8-0 win that completed a three-game sweep.

With the win, the Indians improved to 60-42 and still own the American League’s best record.  

Kluber (10-8, 3.27 ERA), who has been rounding into ace form over his last couple starts, continued that trend with seven scoreless innings in which he allowed five hits and struck out seven.

“That was nice,” said Indians manager Terry Francona on Kluber’s outing. “And he came out of the shoot firing strikes, got a couple early strikeouts. Usually with Klubes when he gets off to that good start and he feels good, he continues it. He was really good.”

Offensively, the Indians beat up A’s (47-58) starting pitcher Sonny Gray (5-10, 5.84 ERA), who hasn’t been his normal self for much of the year.

The Indians put together a five-run third inning that, with Kluber on the mound, left little doubt. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases and with one out, Jason Kipnis singled to right field to score two runs. Francisco Lindor added a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0, and Mike Napoli followed with a two-run home run to left field, his 24th of the season. It was also Napoli’s 1,000th career hit.

In the fourth, the Indians added two more with a run-scoring single by Roberto Perez and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kipnis. Abraham Almonte made it 8-0 in the fifth with another sacrifice fly, this one scoring Napoli, who walked to open the inning.

Gray looked like his old self in the first two innings, but the Indians were able to capitalize on opportunities in the third and fourth.

“I look at his numbers and I’m trying to figure out where the runs are coming from,” Francona said. “Maybe today is another example, because I thought out of the shoot he looked [like] the same old Sonny Gray—breaking ball, fastball, cutting it—and kind of slicing through us. And then we didn’t just score, we broke through. And then Nap hits the next one, so obviously it helps us.”

Carlos Santana left the game in the ninth inning after his right hamstring began cramping following a swing. He stayed in the game to finish his at-bat but didn’t come back out to play first base.

“We’ve all had that, it’s not fun,” Francona said. “He’s not hurt, it just hurt. And then it kind of came back again. Just for the time being, it kind of hurts, it kind of locks you up. He’ll be OK.”

The Indians have now won four of their five games since returning home from their extended road trip due to the Republican National Convention.

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Indians clubhouse receives ‘jolt’ with Andrew Miller trade

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 31, 2016

An aggressive move at the trade deadline isn’t just exciting for the fans.

With the Indians acquiring All-Star relief pitcher Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees on Sunday, it didn’t just signal a willingness to be aggressive to those outside the organization. Those inside the clubhouse liked seeing it, too.

That includes Jason Kipnis, who has seen the Indians be in different positions at the deadline.

“The trade deadline can go one of two ways,” Kipnis said. “It can kind of drag on for a little while you’re questioning why we don’t make any moves or anything like that. You’re getting frustrated or waiting for it to be over. And then when you do make moves like this, it’s exactly what you need. It’s a jolt in the arm. It’s a little boost. Guys get excited. They know they’re coming into the last stretch after this and it could be the little added energy that they need.”

The Indians, following Sunday’s win against the Oakland A’s, are 60-42 and own the best record in the American League. Adding one of the top relievers in baseball only adds momentum as they make their case as the top contender in the AL.

Miller, in a way, enters as reinforcements for the bullpen, which is now among baseball’s strongest and will support the AL’s top starting rotation. It’s still unknown if Miller will work the eighth inning as he did in New York, bump Cody Allen from the closer’s role or share ninth-inning duties with him.

Allen has said he’s willing to change roles if warranted and was pleased to see such an elite arm being added to the bullpen.

“It breathes a lot of life into this clubhouse,” Allen said. “Everybody in this clubhouse, these guys are the ones who put us in a spot to do these things. We're in first place with these guys. If we can go get a game-changer like Miller, it breathes life into the clubhouse. It lets everybody in the clubhouse know that everybody in that front office wants to win just as badly as we do and right now. We're not thinking about a few years from now. We're thinking about trying to win in 2016. That says a lot. The guys in the clubhouse, they're pretty pumped up about it.”

The Indians are entering August in first place, not far from the stretch run of the regular season. Miller’s addition solidifies the bullpen, but it can also offer a small, positive wave to those already on the roster.

“I want to say this correctly because I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but from [owner] Paul Dolan to [president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti] and his guys, [general manager Mike Chernoff] and [assistant general manager Derek Falvey] and those guys, not just what it does for our team statistically, wins and loses, but the message it sends, you’re going to see guys with some extra bounce in their step,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “There was some I think [Saturday night] just with the rumors starting to sneak out and things like that.”

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Transcript of Chris Antonetti, Terry Francona following Andrew Miller trade

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 31, 2016

Here's a transcript of what Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona had to say following the Indians' completed trade for New York Yankees All-Star relief pitcher Andrew Miller.

Chris Antonetti

[On the Miller deal]

“We are really excited to announce that we have acquired left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees. We're thrilled about the acquisition of Andrew. It's one of the best late-inning relief pitchers in baseball, a guy that's had a history of success not only in the postseason, but in the regular season. And it's a guy that we feel will not only improve us on the field, but is an exceptional teammate, is a guy that's done anything and has proven that he'll do anything to help a team win. He'll help us in a lot of ways. Obviously, it came at great cost to us. We traded a group of players that we think very highly of and we're confident are going to have very successful careers in New York, but this was an opportunity for us to clearly help our team and give us a better chance to get us to the postseason and, if we're fortunate enough to get there, to do our best to win.”

[On his extra years of control]

“I think we looked at this as not only a move that will help us this year, but for years to come. This is a guy that, again, will impact our team in so many ways not only this year, as we try to make a run for the postseason, but hopefully for the next couple seasons as well. We would not have parted with the talent we did had their not been additional years of team control.”

[On the farm system's role]

“I think it really speaks to the job our scouting staff and our development group has done, to be able to not only have a healthy Major League team that has a lot of members of the farm system that are making an impact, but to be able to have the depth in the farm system to make a trade like this and still look up and feel pretty good about the guys that we still have here, I think it speaks to the tremendous work of a great group of people in our scouts and our player development staff. Without their work, we wouldn't be in a position to make this type of deal.”

[On being aggressive]

“I think we've said it from the beginning. Any opportunity to win, we don't take lightly. We want to try to do what we can to get to the postseason and win a World Series. I think we've tried to be consistent with that and we talk about that all the time. That's why we do what we do, and we felt that this team has done its part. Tito and the coaches and the players have worked extraordinarily hard to put us in this position, and we wanted to try to explore every way possible to improve and to even give us a better chance.”

[On taking on all of Miller’s salary]

“Yes. I think that speaks to, Paul has said it multiple times, when we have opportunities to win, we're going to do what we can to improve the team. I think he demonstrated that again, not only with the willingness to trade very good Minor League players, but also to assume the salary.”

[On Miller’s role]

“I'm not sure. That's something we'll work through. The one thing I'll say is I want to make a specific mention of Cody Allen. I was on the road trip with the team and he came to me and said, 'Chris, hey, for whatever it's worth, all I care about is winning. I will do anything to help the team win, so if you feel that there's some guy out there that can help us and help the bullpen,' he said, 'I'll pitch whenever Tito wants me to pitch.' And he reinforced that with us today. I can't tell you how much that means to me and speaks to Cody and his mentality and how much he cares about winning.”

[On Chapman negotiations]

“I've spent a lot of time on the phone and text messages with Brian Cashman over the last month. He deserves a great deal of credit. He and his staff spent a ton of time on our system and they identified guys that are going to be really good players. It was a painful trade for us to make, because we're giving up guys that are going to have really successful Major League careers. We were engaged on Chapman, and spent a lot of times talking about players during that concept, and that continued through discussions on Andrew.”

[On Miller's willingness to take on different roles]

“In so many ways, I'm not sure there's a better fit and better complement to our team than Andrew Miller. For his ability to be so effective, but his willingness to do anything to help the team and pitch whenever it made sense. I think that speaks to who he is as a person, and we think he'll fit right in to the fabric of our team.”

[On when Miller will arrive]

“He'll travel. He's got some things. Obviously, they've got a few things going. He's been on the road with the team in Tampa. He'll travel late tonight and get in at some point this evening, hopefully.”

[On if the Chapman trade affected the market for relief pitchers]

“I'm not sure exactly how it affected the market. We knew going in, based upon our conversations with the Yankees and other teams for late-inning relievers, that it was going to be expensive and cause us to part with players that we honestly didn't want to part with. But, I think for us, a key factor in this deal, as I said earlier, was the ability to look beyond just this year. And the fact that Andrew could impact us not only for this year, but for the next three years.”

[On whether he anticipates the Indians remaining active prior to Monday’s deadline]

“Yes. I do.”

[On the buzz in clubhouse]

“It's great to hear. Again, our success is still going to be largely dependent upon how that group in there performs. No one acquisition, or two acquisitions, or any number of acquisitions for that matter, are going to dictate our success. It's going to be the group that's already in the clubhouse. It's great that they feel that way. It's great that they have that boost. I know the guys in there will be incredibly welcoming and hopefully Andrew can fit into that group seamlessly.”

[On what the Yankees were asking for]

“There were a lot of different permutations of the trade that got bantered about over the course of time, but they were set on getting premium talent. We had to part with some premium guys to be able to get this done.”

[Did you get much sleep last night?]

“No. That's OK.”

[Did you go home?]

“I made the decision at 2:30 last night to actually go home.”

[What time did you get back here?]

“I don't know. I was on the phone with Andrew around 8:15, I think. And Brian around 8. I think that was on my drive in.”

[On building around pitching, which can be fragile]

“I look at it as, we're sitting here today with an opportunity to win. We have a team that we feel is capable of competing for a postseason and, if we get there, has a chance to win. I think that's the way we looked at it. We felt Andrew adds to that. Certainly, our starting pitching has been a strength to the team. We're hopeful that that will continue and believe that will. But we don't look at it as, as I said earlier, it's not just about this year. It's about the foreseeable future for us. We feel really good about the group of core guys we have in that clubhouse and we wanted to try to find players externally that would not only help us this year, but for years to come. That was our preference as we really engaged in trade discussions.”

Terry Francona

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UPDATE: Indians add All-Star Andrew Miller for prospects in aggressive move; Jonathan Lucroy vetoes

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 31, 2016

The Indians made one of the biggest splashes of this year’s trade deadline on Sunday, acquiring All-Star relief pitcher Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees in exchange for a package of four prospects headlined by outfielder Clint Frazier and pitcher Justus Sheffield.

The stunning deal came on the same day that a second agreed-upon trade, one to acquire Milwaukee Brewers All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy, was vetoed by Lucroy via his no-trade clause.

In Miller, the Indians add one of the best relief pitchers in baseball to bolster the back-end of the bullpen, signaling an aggressive move as they lead their division and stand as one of the top contenders in the American League.

The deal is costing the Indians Frazier, one of their top two prospects, Sheffield, their No. 5 prospect per MLB.com’s rankings and two relief pitching prospects, Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen.

“I’ve said it from the beginning: Any opportunity to win, we don’t take lightly,” said Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti. “We want to try to do what we can to get to the postseason and win a World Series. I think we’ve tried to be consistent with that and we talk about that all the time. That’s why we do what we do, and we felt that this team has done it’s part.”

Miller, a left-hander, this season has a 1.39 ERA and 0.772 WHIP to go with 77 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings pitched entering Sunday. Among qualified relievers, his 1.8 WAR is third in baseball, per FanGraphs.

Miller will make $9 million a year through the 2018 season, making him a longer-term investment and aligning him with many other key players on the club who are under club control through that season and beyond. The Indians will be assuming his entire contract.

It’s still unclear exactly what role Miller will assume in the Indians’ bullpen. Miller moved to a set-up role with the Yankees after they acquired Aroldis Chapman, and Indians closer Cody Allen has said he’d be willing to change roles if needed. Both relievers’ willingness to work the eighth inning affords the Indians some flexibility.

“I was on the road trip with the team and [Allen] came to me and said, 'Chris, hey, for whatever it's worth, all I care about is winning. I will do anything to help the team win, so if you feel that there's some guy out there that can help us and help the bullpen,' he said, 'I'll pitch whenever Tito wants me to pitch,’” Antonetti said. “And [Allen] reinforced that with us today. I can't tell you how much that means to me and speaks to Cody and his mentality and how much he cares about winning.”

Regardless of role, the Indians now own one of the best 1-2 combinations in the game, along with Bryan Shaw in front of them.

“It's exciting,” Allen said. “Getting a guy like that can really help us reach our ultimate goal, and that's playing the last game of the season and winning the last game of the season. A guy like him, as dominant as he is, as good as he's been his entire career, everything we've heard about him, we're definitely excited to have him.”

With the move the Indians bolstered their claim as, perhaps, the AL’s best team this season. They also sent a message to fans, one that speaks to a willingness to be aggressive when the time is right.

“I would hope the fan base would be thrilled because so many times when I’m walking around downtown or something, or when I’m walking back from the casino after I just got my ass kicked, people will stop and say something to me and inevitably it’s that kind of comment, like, ‘How come we’re not with the big fish?’ said Indians manager Terry Francona. “There is no bigger. Chris and the guys just went and got the very best guy there was. And if you don’t think other teams wanted him, you’re crazy. They didn’t half-ass it, they went and got the best there is. There’s no better message.”

It appeared as though Miller would be joining Lucroy as All-Star additions. The Indians and Brewers reportedly reached an agreement late Saturday night with a four-prospect package. But Lucroy, citing concerns with playing time in 2017, opted to veto the deal with his no-trade clause. Had Lucroy accepted it, the Indians would have traded eight prospects for two All-Stars in a matter of hours. But unless Lucroy changes his mind, the Indians will have to look elsewhere.

Antonetti anticipates the Indians remaining active through Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline.

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Indians acquire Yankees RP Andrew Miller for Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, others

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 31, 2016
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The Indians made another major splash on the trade market Sunday morning, completing a deal with the New York Yankees to acquire relief pitcher Andrew Miller.

The deal was first reported by FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal and has since been confirmed by the Indians.

The deal comes after the Indians reportedly reached an agreement with Milwaukee for All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy, though Lucroy still has to approve the move.

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Indians, Brewers in agreement on deal for Jonathan Lucroy, per report; Lucroy must still approve

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 31, 2016

The Indians and Milwaukee Brewers have reached an agreement on a deal involving All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy, per a report from FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal.

The deal must still be approved by Lucroy, as the Indians are one of the teams included in his no-trade clause. It’s possible Lucroy, who currently has a $5.25 million club option for 2017, could use this as leverage to negotiate an extension.

Lucroy this season is hitting .300 with a .360 on-base percentage, 13 home runs, 17 doubles and 50 RBI. He was named an All-Star this season, his second career selection.

Indians catchers this year, per FanGraphs, have a combined WAR of -1.2, the worst mark in the majors. Lucroy has a WAR of 2.8.

The Indians are reportedly sending a four-player package, per Rosenthal, to the Brewers for Lucroy. Per various reports, three of those players involved in the deal include catcher Francisco Mejia (No. 6 prospect in the system), shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang (No. 12) and outfielder Greg Allen (No. 22). The fourth piece of the deal is still unknown.  

According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Brewers insisted on a package being highlighted by top prospects Bradley Zimmer (No. 1) or Clint Frazier (No. 2) or Mejia. As of now, it appears the Indians might be able to add Lucroy and bolster the lineup while keeping their prized outfielders.

Mejia was the club’s top catching prospect and was in the midst of a 42-game hitting streak with Class-A Lynchburg. The Indians, though, have stability at catcher with Yan Gomes under club control through the 2021 season and Roberto Perez under club control through 2020. While Gomes has struggled this season, the Indians also made a long-term financial commitment to him.

Lucroy could potentially take over at first base next season. Mike Napoli could become a free agent this winter and Carlos Santana has a club option for $12 million.

Also per Rosenthal, the Indians aren’t receiving any other players in the deal, which namely means relief pitchers Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress aren’t involved.

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Indians find power stroke with four home runs, top A’s 6-3

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 30, 2016

It was fitting that on the night the Indians honored Jim Thome as a member of the 2016 class inducted into the franchise Hall of Fame, the 2016 edition of the Indians powered their way to a 6-3 win against the Oakland A’s.

The Indians (59-42) hit four home runs Saturday night, enough to slug their way to a second straight win. While none were as prodigious as Thome’s 511-foot home run in 1999, they were enough to down the A’s (47-57) and maintain the best record in the American League.

Already trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first, Jason Kipnis slugged a solo home run down the right-field line off A’s starter Dillon Overton, his 17th of the season, which already ties his career high in a season.

An inning later, Jose Ramirez led off with his 5th home run of the season, giving the Indians a 2-1 lead.

In the fourth, two more. Abraham Almonte slugged his first home run of the season, a 442-foot shot, per Statcast, three-fourths of the way up the bleachers in left field. Kipnis then added an RBI-double high off the wall in center field to score Rajai Davis, who had singled. Later in the inning, Mike Napoli added a two-run blast to center field, his team-leading 23rd of the season, to put the Indians ahead 6-2.

Indians starting pitcher Josh Tomlin tossed a solid outing, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out seven in seven innings pitched. For the second straight night, Bryan Shaw worked a scoreless eighth inning and Cody Allen worked the ninth, allowing a home run to Marcus Semien but closing the door.

The fourth inning included some tension. Midway through his at-bat, Billy Butler became upset, possibly with Tomlin’s quick pace on the mound. He then exchanged words with catcher Chris Gimenez, causing a short delay. On the next pitch, Butler crushed a solo home run to the bleachers in left field.

As he hit it, Butler yelled and flipped his bat, halfway turning toward Gimenez. Gimenez responded by walking out to the mound as Butler rounded the bases. Once Butler crossed home, home plate umpire Tripp Gibson issued warnings to both benches.

That home run tied it 2-2, but came just before the Indians’ four-run, multi-home run fourth inning.

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Indians 5, A’s 3: Ryan Lewis’ 14 Walk-Off Thoughts on Abraham Almonte, a rally, Trevor Bauer

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 29, 2016

Here are 14 Walk-Off Thoughts on the Indians’ 5-3 win against the Oakland A’s Friday night.

1. The Indians took Friday night’s game with a four-run seventh inning that included some luck and some timely hitting.

2. The rally started with an error on A’s shortstop Marcus Semien, included a couple of key hits to cut the deficit to 3-2 and then a broken-bat single by Jason Kipnis that tied the game 3-3. Kipnis’ bat splintered, with most of it sailing toward right field while the ball found a small area of real estate in shallow left field that the A’s couldn’t cover. Then, a wild pitch gave the Indians a lead and Francisco Lindor’s sacrifice fly made it 5-3.

3. The Indians are now 58-42 and own the American League’s best record. More-so than last season, the club has seemed to be able to take a punch and strike back late in games. They now have 19 come-from-behind wins this season. Friday night was another example of turning a quiet night offensively into a game-deciding four-run rally.

4. Said Indians manager Terry Francona, “Sometimes when you’re making outs it may not look like you have in-game fight, but I agree, this group, you don’t get the feeling like you got punched in the stomach and it takes you two innings to get it back. I agree with that, I think they do a good job of continuing to play and play and play.”



5. Said Abraham Almonte, “With the team we have right now I think we can come back from anything. You can see the worst situation and then [snaps fingers], I think we can come back and do it.”

6. Almonte, pinch-hitting, came away with the run-scoring single that made it 3-2 and set up Kipnis’ broken-bat, game-tying single. It was a huge hit for a guy who has really struggled since being reinstated from a failed drug test and 80-game suspension.

7. Almonte is now hitting .200, and his last month has included two mental mistakes that cost the Indians in their pre-break series against the New York Yankees. He’s been the fifth outfielder (including Jose Ramirez), but he had one of the biggest hits of the night when the Indians needed it most.

8. Said Almonte, “It feels great. It was a big situation for the club. I was able to get a hit and keep things rolling there in a good way. Always feel excited to help the team win.”

More: Indians activate Zach McAllister, place Jeff Manship on DL; Trade rumors continue

9. Trevor Bauer threw 5 2/3 innings, gave up three runs (two earned) and struck out four. He was solid through five innings, allowing only one run after an error on Mike Napoli. But, to start the sixth, Josh Reddick and Khris Davis hit back-to-back home runs, making it 3-0. That was followed with a strikeout, a walk and a single, and Bauer’s day was done.

10. Bauer hasn’t been as sharp in July, owning a 5.19 ERA. He held a 2.01 ERA in June. Friday night was a strong start until the back-to-back home runs, which were reminiscent of his issues last season.

11. Said Francona, “I thought Trevor was throwing the ball good. He had the unearned run early and then he had the back-to-back home runs. I was trying to stay with him, but after that you got walk-hit and he’s up over 100. The way Graveman was throwing, it seemed like we better try to hold it right there.”

12. The Indians brought in Dan Otero, who worked out of the jam, as he’s done all season. Otero has pretty much been the Indians’ secret weapon in the bullpen. He holds a 1.31 ERA and has had a season reminiscent of Jeff Manship from last year. Lately, he’s been called into several high-leverage situations and done well.

13. Said closer Cody Allen, who notched his 20th save, on Otero, “He's given us a lot. He can pitch anywhere. That's the thing. He can give you multiple innings. He can come in and get righties out. He can get lefties out. A guy like that is key to having a good bullpen. Without him this year, we'd kind of be stuck a little bit, because we haven't gotten a lot of innings out of lefties. But, Dan can sink the ball and cut the ball. He does a lot of things. He's been huge for us.”

14. Two interesting notes courtesy of the Indians from Friday night: 1. Carlos Santana hit his 22nd home run of the season, a solo shot in the sixth that made it 3-1. He now has 139 home runs with the Indians, which ties him with Grady Sizemore for 13th in franchise history. 2. Rajai Davis stole his 25th base of the season Friday night. At 35 years old, Davis is the oldest Indians player to steal 25 bases in a year since Nap Lajoie did it in 1910.

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Indians put together four-run seventh, top Oakland A’s 5-3

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 29, 2016

In baseball, there’s nothing wrong with getting a little lucky in the middle of a rally.

The ball bounced the Indians’ way a couple times in a seventh-inning rally and, combined with some timely hits, it propelled them to a 5-3 win against the Oakland A’s Friday night.

The Indians entered the seventh trailing 3-1, heading toward another quiet offensive night after Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the Washington Nationals. Then, an opportunity.

Facing A’s starter Kendall Graveman, Rajai Davis reached base thanks to an error on shortstop Marcus Semien with one out in the inning. Tyler Naquin followed with a single and Abraham Almonte, who’s struggled since being reinstated, singled home a run to make it 3-2 and put runners on the corners.

The A’s (47-56) called on left-hander and former Indians reliever Marc Rzepcsynski to face Carlos Santana, who drew a walk to load the bases.

Then, on a pivotal pitch, Jason Kipnis’ bat splintered. As most of the bat sailed toward right field, the ball found the little ground in shallow left field that the A’s couldn’t cover, falling for a game-tying single.

Ryan Dull relieved Rzepczynski, though he threw an errant pitch in the dirt that trickled away from catcher Stephen Vogt, allowing Almonte to score and give the Indians a 4-3 lead. Francisco Lindor followed with a sacrifice fly to right field, deep enough to score Santana from third.

Now operating with a lead, Bryan Shaw worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Cody Allen notched save No. 20 in the ninth, though it came with a close call as Josh Reddick, with two runners on and two out, hit a ball to the wall in center field.

It was enough to support starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, who threw 5 1/3 innings, allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and struck out four. Bauer kept the A’s at a 1-0 advantage until the sixth inning, when Josh Reddick and Khris Davis hit back-to-back home runs. It was reminiscent of Bauer’s struggles last year, much of which were driven by home runs.

Dan Otero worked out of a sixth-inning jam to keep it a 3-0 score and Cody Anderson threw a scoreless inning in relief, his first action in a week.

It took time Friday night for the Indians’ offense to find a rhythm. They were held scoreless until Carlos Santana belted a solo home run to right field, his 22nd of the season, which tied Mike Napoli for the team lead.

The Indians (58-42), 6-6 since the All-Star break, maintain their hold on the best record in the American League.

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Indians activate RP Zach McAllister, place RP Jeff Manship on disabled list; Trade rumors heating up

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 29, 2016

The Indians on Friday swapped out relief pitchers, activating Zach McAllister and placing Jeff Manship on the 15-day disabled list.

McAllister had been on the disabled list since July 7 with right hip discomfort. This season he has a 5.40 ERA and 1.613 WHIP to go with 28 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings pitched. He worked a couple of rehab appearances with positive reports.

"[Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway] told him to treat it like it was a game,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Because he had been pitching to some righties earlier just to try to work on it a little bit. Last night, he was like, ‘Here, let’s go compete a little bit.’ I think it was good for him.”

Manship is being placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 27 with right wrist tendinitis. Manship has struggled as of late, allowing five earned runs in his last 2 2/3 innings pitched.

For a brief time last season and earlier this year, Manship was among the more reliable relievers in the game. Lately, he didn't show the same consistency. With McAllister ready to be activated and Manship dealing with some discomfort, the time came to allow him to rest.

“Again, all guys by this time of year have stuff that [are bothering them],” Francona said. “But when it starts getting in the way of him being able to do what he can do [it’s a problem]. I think that’s where the communication comes in. We talked to him a few times and put our heads together. We weren’t trying to get him to the DL. We were just trying to do what’s in our best interest so we can get him back and let him do what he does well.”

Rumor mill spinning

The Indians are one day closer to Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, and a deal has yet to be reached among any of their reported trade targets.

A wrinkle has also been added into the Jonathan Lucroy negotiations with the Milwaukee Brewers. Per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, Lucroy, the Brewers’ All-Star catcher, has the Indians as one of eight teams on his no-trade clause.

It could make a deal with the Brewers more difficult to complete. The no-trade clause potentially gives Lucroy leverage to seek a long-term extension or decline a deal altogether. Lucroy has a $5.25 million club option for next season. Several other teams, including the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros and New York Mets, have all been reportedly connected to Lucroy as well.

Per FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the Indians are one of a few teams interested in Pittsburgh Pirates closer Mark Melancon. The Pirates are reportedly seeking a relief pitcher back in the deal along with a prospect or two. Melancon, who can become a free agent this offseason, has a 1.51 ERA, 0.960 WHIP and 30 saves entering Friday.

Should the Indians deal for a pitcher of Melancon’s caliber, it’s possible Cody Allen could be moved out of the closer’s role. Allen has informed the club he would be comfortable with such a move if necessary. Melancon could also be inserted into the eighth-inning role, moving Bryan Shaw to the seventh.

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Indians’ trade deadline rumors heating up surrounding Jonathan Lucroy, others

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 29, 2016

Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline is drawing near, and the Indians are still looking to address some of their needs on the major-league roster.
Here’s a rundown of where they stand.

The Indians continue to be linked to Milwaukee Brewers All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who would offer a significant upgrade to the lineup. He’s hitting .300 this season with a .361 on-base percentage, 13 home runs, 17 doubles and 50 RBI. Per FanGraphs, he’s given the Brewers 2.8 WAR this season, third among major-league catchers.

Indians catchers, meanwhile, have all struggled offensively and Yan Gomes recently landed on the disabled list with a separated shoulder. Together, they’ve combined for -1.1 WAR, the worst mark in baseball, and have been an anchor at the bottom of the lineup, all hitting below or around .200 with little power.

Lucroy is making $4 million this season and has a $5.25 million club option for next season. He’d give the Indians an upgrade at catcher this season and could potentially move to first base next year with Gomes and Perez under club control for the foreseeable future.

The Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros and New York Mets have all been connected to Lucroy as well, who appears to be among the more available players in the league if a team will meet the Brewers’ demands.

In the Indians’ case, they could also be seeking to acquire one of Milwaukee’s relief pitchers, namely left-hander Will Smith, in a deal highlighted by Lucroy. Smith is under club control through the 2019 season. The question will be the Brewers’ asking price, especially with the market for Lucroy heating up.

Per various reports, the Indians have also been linked to Tampa Bay’s Steve Pearce and Cincinnati All-Star outfielder Jay Bruce.

Pearce, who primarily plays the corner outfield spots and first base, crushes left-handed pitching and owns a 1.212 OPS against lefties this season. Pearce would give the Indians more balance in the outfield against left-handed pitchers with left-handed hitters Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin on the roster. The price tag on Pearce might not be as high as other Indians’ targets, as he’ll be a free agent after this season.

Bruce would give the Indians another left-handed hitter in the outfield, though he’s had an outstanding season at the plate, slugging 25 home runs and driving in 79 runs this season. Bruce has a club option for the 2017 season.

The Indians were also tied to closer Aroldis Chapman, outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. and infielder Eduardo Nunez, though they have all since been dealt.

Teams could be targeting one of the Indians’ top prospects, outfielders Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier, who were recently promoted to Triple-A Columbus. The Indians also have a surplus of starting pitching prospects, including Brady Aiken, Justus Sheffield, Triston McKenzie and others.

The question, as always this time of year, is finding a match in value. Though this year, the Indians have plenty of reasons to be buyers as one of the American League’s top contenders.

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Tyler Naquin continues building AL Rookie of the Year case; Indians to enjoy heavy home schedule

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 27, 2016

For the second straight season, the Indians have one of the top contenders to be named American League Rookie of the Year. Though this year, it’s coming from an unlikely spot.

That’d be outfielder Tyler Naquin, who has been among the better hitters in the American League since being called up June 1, his third stint in the majors this season. To date, he’s hitting .330 with 12 home runs, 12 doubles and 32 RBI. He’s also fourth in the AL with 25 extra-base hits since June 3.

Last season, Francisco Lindor finished as the runner-up to Houston shortstop Carlos Correa. Lindor was a natural fit as the Indians’ No. 1 prospect who finally made his long-awaited debut. Naquin, in contrast, has forced his way into the discussion and the Indians lineup, which has routinely featured Jose Ramirez, Rajai Davis and Lonnie Chisenhall in the outfield.

He’s had to fight for his time.

“It kind of comes back to that [phrase] I’ve used with him: Survival instincts,” Francona said. “I know he’s got some talent, but he just kind of competes like crazy. He may take an awkward swing, but you get one he can reach, he doesn’t just hit it now, he’s been riffling it somewhere. It’s been really fun to watch.”

He found a way to impact Tuesday night’s game, even though he didn’t start. As a pinch-hitter, Naquin roped a double to left-center that made it 6-5 and eventually led to the Indians’ 7-6 walk-off win against the Washington Nationals. The Indians have appreciated Naquin’s production as well as his attentiveness late in games.  

“Sometimes, with youth comes enthusiasm, which is good, but also can come somebody sitting down at the end of the bench eating seeds, kind of like a spring training game. And then you surprise them during the game. Nake’s always ready, which is good. That’s never an issue. This kid wants to play. I think during the game, he’s hoping something happens so he can get in.”

Naquin has picked up some in-game habits from Chisenhall, who is adept in entering a game late if the opposing team starts a left-hander and also had an RBI-hit in Tuesday’s win.

“From the very get-go, Lonnie told me just kind of a time frame,” Naquin said. “During the game, go down there [to the cage] and get your swings in. Always be ready though. He does an unbelievable job and [Tuesday] it showed for him.”

Home sweet home

The Indians this week kicked off a 20-in-25 games stretch that will be played at Progressive Field. After returning from the All-Star break with an extended road trip, they’ll now enjoy the other half of an unbalanced schedule due to the Republican National Convention.

“Huge. It’s huge,” said Francisco Lindor. “We’ve been on the road for a while. It’s nice to be home with our families, get that little off day and be in this clubhouse. It changes everything a little bit. The fans [Tuesday], they were a little quiet at first but it got loud as the game went on. That’s what we play for. For them.”

Indians manager Terry Francona often talks about the simple advantage of being able to hit last. While it’s a small advantage, it’s also better than the alternative. For many of the players, being able to be home for an extended period of time has its own advantages on and off the field. For the next three-plus weeks, the Indians will get to nearly play exclusively at home. For a team trying to hold onto a division lead, it’s an ideal setup.

“There's nothing better than being home,” said Chris Gimenez. “We kind of had a rough month of being on some 10-day road trips, a West Coast swing, stuff like that. It grinds on you. It absolutely grinds on you. There's nothing better than being home, where everything is comfortable. You have your home fans, a huge support system here. You can kind of get on that schedule, I think is the most important. That routine.”

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Indians stifled by Stephen Strasburg, Nationals in 4-1 loss

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 27, 2016

Indians manager Terry Francona often says momentum in baseball is only up to the next day’s opposing starting pitcher. And on Wednesday, the Indians faced a brick wall in the form of Stephen Strasburg and fell to the Washington Nationals 4-1.

The Indians won in walk-off fashion Tuesday night in their return to Progressive Field, a needed jolt after losing three straight at the end of an extended road trip. But that momentum was halted against Strasburg, who threw seven scoreless innings, allowed only three hits and struck out seven.

“He has a lot of weapons,” Francona said of Strasburg (14-1, 2.68 ERA). “He can throw the ball by you, a fastball on both sides of the plate. He has a slider, change. He’s got everything and his fastball has a ton of ride, or finish. … It’s impressive.”

The Indians (57-42) managed to make things interesting in the bottom of the ninth. Erik Gonzalez walked and Rajai Davis singled, setting up Tyler Naquin, who hit a one-out RBI-single up the middle to make it 4-1 and bring the tying run to the plate. That was Roberto Perez, who couldn’t bring magic to Progressive Field for the second straight night. Facing Blake Treinen, Perez grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.

Carlos Carrasco (7-4, 2.45 ERA) allowed three runs in six innings and struck out five. His trouble inning was the second, in which a couple of walks and a missed double play put the Nationals up 2-0.

After Carrasco walked the first two batters in the inning, Ryan Zimmerman grounded a ball to Francisco Lindor. Lindor threw to second for the first out, but Kipnis dropped the exchange. Carrasco recored the second out of the inning but with the extra life, Trea Turner singled to left field to score two.

Carrasco momentarily lost his command a bit. He nearly pitched out of it, but Turner’s two-run single turned out to be the difference with Strasburg in rhythm.

“Kind of lost my control,” Carrasco said. “Not too much damage, only two runs, thought it was going to be more, but I held them to two. I thought that I lost my control a little bit. That’s not good.”

The Nationals tacked on insurance runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Daniel Murphy belted his 20th home run of the season against Carrasco and an inning later, Turner doubled home a run against Dan Otero to make it 4-0.

The Indians moved to 5-6 since the All-Star break and have a day off on Thursday.

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Indians 7, Nationals 6: Ryan Lewis’ 23 Walk-Off Thoughts on Francisco Lindor, Rajai Davis, the 9th

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 27, 2016

Here are 23 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians defeated the Nationals 7-6 Tuesday night in walk-off fashion.

1. The Indians notched their fifth walk-off win of the season. This one snapped a three-game losing streak, came against a first-place Nationals team and erased three two-run deficits. In a long season, there probably isn’t such a thing as a “biggest win,” but this was certainly one of the more impressive for the 57-41 Indians.

2. Breaking down the final rally, the Indians entered the ninth trailing 6-4 and facing Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon.

3. It began with Jose Ramirez drawing a walk to bring the tying run to the plate. Tyler Naquin, who’s continuing to build a strong American League Rookie of the year case, then came up with the hardest hit of the inning, a pinch-hit, run-scoring double to left-center field. All of a sudden, the Indians have the tying run on second base with nobody out.

4. Said Indians manager Terry Francona, “That obviously really changed the game. We’re trying to extend the inning any way we can, maybe get the tying run to second or something. It looked like he hit a split and he stayed on it. That really changed everything. Now all of a sudden they’ve got to play the infield in. All kinds of things get turned around. G got a bunt down. Because he got it down, sometimes good things happen.”

5. Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall each had key hits—Chisenhall singled home a run in the 7th—after the Nationals went with right-handers to follow lefty starter Gio Gonzalez. The rookie is still learning, and it came in handy Tuesday night.

6. Said Naquin, on pinch-hitting, “From the very get go Lonnie told me just kind of a time frame. During that game, go down there and get your swings in. Always be ready though. He does an unbelievable job and tonight it showed for him.”

7. With the tying run on second and nobody out, the Indians turned their attention to small-ball and tying the game. Chris Gimenez laid down a bunt, except first basemen Ryan Zimmerman threw the ball into right field, tying it 6-6.

8. Said Gimenez, “That turned to gold. That worked out perfect. I sat there and I knew obviously the situation being what it was. Once Naquin hit the ball in the gap, I'm going to bunt. After I made sure Jose was safe at home, I just looked in at Tito and he gave me the bunt sign. And Sarby called me over and I'm like I got it, I got it. I know what I'm doing. I've been around a little while. I know the situation. At that point, I knew they weren't running the wheel play, because I could see out of the corner of my eye. So, it was just get a bunt down wherever it went. The first pitch was a slider down. Easy take. he tried to throw me a fastball up and away, hoping I'd kind of pop it up. I just thought it wasn't high enough that I couldn't go get it. Just nice and easy, bunt it to first base. It turns out that he's had some minor issues I think in the past with making a throw and stuff like that. Thankfully, for us today, it worked out. He made the throw wide and I was able to go to second base, and ended up being the winning run.”

9. With Gimenez being able to advance to second on the error, the Indians are still trying to move him to third, only now it’s the winning run. Rajai Davis squared around to bunt, except when the Nationals infield charged in, Davis “slashed” it over them for an infield single. It was a brilliant play.

10. Said Davis, “I was taught to, when that happens, you slash. You try to keep it in the middle of the field. So, in the ninth, that was my first opportunity to actually do that in a game. … I was taught in the minor leagues that that's what you do. When everybody's crashing, you slash. That's what the pitchers work on. I think that's the perfect opportunity to do it.”

More: Indians OF Michael Brantley still optimistic he can make an impact in 2016

11. Francona half-jokingly said he wasn’t sure if Davis meant to bunt it that hard. But either way, there is a reason that putting the ball in play and forcing the defense to make plays has some value.

12. Said Francona, “I’d like to say yeah, I’m going to doubt it. They were so aggressive on that play that, again, I don’t know if he tried that or not. They had no play because they were so aggressive. That’s one where, being that aggressive, you’d almost like him to pull back and hit because there’s no way we can get G to third on that. They were so aggressive. But when you’re that aggressive, put the ball in play, sometimes some good things can happen.”

13. That opened the door for Francisco Lindor, facing Oliver Perez, to fight off a high-and-tight pitch for the game-winning hit to right field, completing the comeback.

14. It was the fifth Indians walk-off win this season—all since June 1—and the first for Lindor.

15. Said Lindor, “I was just trying to put the ball in play, do something, pick a zone where I wanted to hit it, what pitch I wanted to hit. I got it. I got the barrel to it and I went it through. A lot of emotions running to first base.”



16. A simple, fundamental thing that Francona often talks about when asked about the advantages of playing at home is that you get to bat last. It allows you a clearer picture of your situation. It isn’t really a significant advantage, but sure, it’s better than the alternative.

17. And Tuesday night, it also showed that sometimes putting the ball in play can make things happen. Said Francona, “Yeah. I know this going to be a shocking announcement, that’s not how we drew it up. There were so many things that happened in that game that were kind of peculiar that, again, hitting last sure helps. My goodness, there were a lot of balls going every which way.”

18. The Indians had an extended road trip to accommodate the Republican National Convention. Now, they get to enjoy a 20-in-25-game home stretch. Tuesday night was a pretty solid start.

19. Said Gimenez, “Absolutely. There's nothing better than being home. We kind of had a rough month of being on some 10-day road trips. A West coast swing. Stuff like that. It grinds on you. It absolutely grinds on you. There's nothing better than being home, where everything is comfortable. You have your home fans, a huge support system here. You can kind of get on that schedule, I think is the most important. That routine. That's really big for baseball players is getting on and staying on a routine.”

20. This game was also an example of Francona using his bench. Gimenez, Chisenhall and Naquin entered the game late and all had significant impacts.

21. Said Lindor, “Huge. It gives us a little more confidence. We trust in ourselves. We trust in the team have. But the guys, Gimenez wasn’t starting today, huge at bat. Naquin wasn’t starting today, huge at bat. Chisenhall wasn’t starting today, huge at bat. Overall guys aren’t playing, but they were in the game. They helped us. Naquin is doing an unbelievable job day in and day out. He’s working as hard as he can. One of the reasons we won is because of him.”

22. Dan Otero also tossed two scoreless innings, which was enough for the Indians to get to Austin Adams and then Bryan Shaw, who picked up the win. Otero was key for the Indians to have a chance after Danny Salazar was roughed up and lasted only four innings, the first time he hadn’t at least finished five since May 22 against Boston.

23. Otero has quietly been one of the Indians’ best offseason pick-ups, saying, “Our starters have picked us up all year. Anytime they don't have their best stuff or can't get through 7-8 innings like they usually do, it's nice to go in there and help the team out and keep the other team at bay and let the offense do their job.”

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Indians, Francisco Lindor beat Washington Nationals in wild walk-off win 7-6

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 26, 2016

The Indians went on an extended road trip following the All-Star break due to the Republican National Convention. But nothing does the soul good like some home cooking.

In their first game back in Cleveland, the Indians worked some Progressive Field magic to pull off a wild comeback win in walk-off fashion against the Washington Nationals 7-6.

The Indians entered the ninth inning trailing 6-4 and facing Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon. Jose Ramirez opened with a walk and Tyler Naquin continued his torrid rookie season with a double to left-center that made it 6-5.

Chris Gimenez laid down a sacrifice bunt, except Ryan Zimmerman threw it into right field, tying it 6-6, still with nobody out. Rajai Davis laid down a bunt as well, though he looped it past the charging Nationals infield for a single, putting runners on the corners.

Facing Oliver Perez with one out, Francisco Lindor completed the comeback with a game-winning single to right field, his third hit of the night.

It all was enough to overcome three errors and one of Danny Salazar’s poorer outings this season.

It was a rough outing for Salazar, who lasted only four innings plus one batter, gave up four runs (three earned) on four hits and stuck out five. It was his shortest outing of the season and the first time since May 22 against Boston that he failed to throw at least five innings.

Uribe’s error in the first inning didn’t help matters. With a runner on third in the top of the first inning, Uribe couldn’t handle a ground ball off the bat of Daniel Murphy, allowing Trea Turner to score and put the Nationals up 1-0. Later with two outs instead of three, Jayson Werth doubled to center field to score Murphy from first.

The Indians answered in the bottom of the first with a two-run inning of their own against Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez. Davis came around to score on a passed ball after he walked to open the inning and Carlos Santana tied it 2-2 with a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Jason Kipnis.

After Wilson Ramos opened the fourth inning with a double, Anthony Rendon took a Salazar offering and crushed it to the bleacher seats in left-center field, giving the Nationals their second two-run lead of the night. An inning later, Ramos added a solo home run against Jeff Manship.

Against the Nationals’ bullpen, the Indians began to chip away. In the seventh, the Indians cut the Nationals’ deficit to 5-3 after Abraham Almonte doubled and, with reliever Blake Treinen on the mound, Lonnie Chisenhall singled him home. Davis followed, though, with an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.

In the eighth, Kipnis doubled and Lindor singled to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Mike Napoli worked to a full count against Nationals reliever Felipe Rivero but grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. It scored a run, making it 5-4, but also cleared the bases.

But, the same problems that plagued the Indians in the first inning came back to hurt them again in the ninth. Trying to hold the Nationals a one-run lead, Uribe committed his second error of the day. After Bryan Shaw hit Danny Espinosa and gave up a single to Ben Revere, the Nationals had the bases loaded with one out. Turner ripped a line drive to Napoli that was nearly an inning-ending double play. Instead, Napoli couldn’t wrangle it, was charged with an error and allowed the Nationals to push their lead to 6-4.

But it was all rendered moot with the wild walk-off ninth inning. For the Indians, it’s good to be home.

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Indians OF Michael Brantley still confident in return from frustrating process

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 26, 2016

At this point, Bill Murray might end up playing left field for the Indians.

Rehabbing outfielder Michael Brantley spoke again on Tuesday, saying he’s frustrated by the process but still hopeful he can take the necessary steps to return to the lineup.

It’s the Indians’ own version of Groundhog Day. Though, rather than the charming 1993 flick starring Murray, it’s the delayed return of a key piece to the Indians’ lineup and a potentially significant boost to their postseason chances.

Brantley has tried to ramp up his hitting activities three times, only to be repeatedly shut down. Last week, Brantley underwent an outpatient procedure to remove scar tissue in his surgically-repaired shoulder. He’s also missed all but 11 games this season and has received two anti-inflammatory shots and multiple opinions.

Brantley has again resumed hitting activities after resting for a couple days following the outpatient procedure. But after several setbacks, the Indians are still waiting for him to be able to return and then stay in the lineup for longer than a week or so.

“It’s very tough, especially when you’ve had a couple setbacks and you think you have it figured out and you kind of get a little different twist,” Brantley said. “I’m just going to keep working hard and keep pushing to get back and taking the necessary steps that I need to take.”

Brantley added he’s “very confident” he can still make a significant impact on the 2016 Indians, though there remains only about two months left in the regular season.

“I know the players, the staff, the upper management, they all believe in me that I can come back and contribute in a positive way. I do as well,” Brantley said. “I'm taking every necessary step behind closed doors, stuff that people don't see, tracking balls, getting my mechanics down, doing any drills I can that are non taxing to make sure that my body is ready to go once I come back.”

He reiterated he doesn’t feel he or the club rushed his return. Once he felt good enough to return, he did, though he didn’t respond in the way he hoped. In the past couple weeks, he hasn’t been able to play back-to-back days, a key milestone in his recovery.

“I listened to my body. I felt good. I said it last time. I was feeling great,” Brantley said. “Some things come up. It's very frustrating at times, but at the same time, you have to take what the cards give you. It's a setback, yes, but it's only going to make me stronger as a baseball player and stronger as a person. And just being a better teammate from the dugout and looking in."

So Brantley will continue to try to work back to where his shoulder can withstand the extended volume. And the Indians will wait to hear some new feedback beyond the kind that’s made for a frustrating season for one of the better left fielders in baseball.

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Indians promote top two prospects Bradley Zimmer, Clint Frazier to Triple-A Columbus

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 24, 2016
Zimmer

The Indians’ top two prospects have been roaming the outfield together in Double-A Akron this season. Now, they’re each headed down I-71 to Columbus.

The Indians on Sunday promoted Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier to Triple-A, putting them one step closer to their major-league debuts. Zimmer and Frazier are the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked prospects in the Indians’ organization, respectively, according to Baseball America and other scouting services.

Zimmer this season is hitting .252 with a .370 on-base percentage, 14 home runs, 20 doubles, six triples, 31 stolen bases and 53 RBI. He struggled for much of the season until he worked with RubberDucks hitting coach Tim Laker on narrowing his stance. He also loosened his hands and with those changes found quick results. In July, Zimmer hit .324 with a .418 on-base percentage, two home runs, four doubles, four stolen bases and nine RBI.

Frazier has had a more consistent season in his first year at the Double-A level, hitting .278 with a .357 on-base percentage, 13 home runs, 25 doubles, 48 RBI and 13 stolen bases. He’s also been working in left field to allow him to play either corner outfield position.

Zimmer and Frazier have each had their names floated in trade rumors as the Indians look to add a relief pitcher and possibly a bat prior to the non-waiver trade deadline on Aug. 1. For now, their trip through the minor leagues continues in Columbus.

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Indians OF Michael Brantley has scar tissue removed from shoulder, shut down until early next week

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 22, 2016

Indians outfielder Michael Brantley has had another setback, though it appears this one might only cost him about a week.

Brantley underwent an outpatient procedure on Friday to break up and relieve scar tissue that had built up in his surgically repaired right shoulder. Imaging of his shoulder revealed no structural damage. Indians head athletic trainer James Quinlan added that the doctors were “encouraged” with Brantley’s shoulder.

Brantley will rest through the weekend and is expected to resume baseball activities early next week.

“The fear is when you get tested that extensively, that you can almost find something on anybody,” Indians manager Terry Francona told reporters in Baltimore. The fact that they didn’t is really good news. Now, it’s just going to be a matter of days until he starts again. I know he’s frustrated. We ask our players to do the same thing all the time: Do your best. He kind of goes above and beyond. I think we’re hopeful.”

The hope had been that Brantley could play in back-to-back rehab starts for the RubberDucks last weekend, but the Indians’ trainers pulled him before Saturday’s game. He played seven innings on Sunday before again being shut down.

The Indians still have no timetable for his return.

Back up

Cody Anderson is being recalled to the majors once again.

Anderson will begin his sixth stint with the Indians this season, as he takes the place of relief pitcher Joe Colon, who is being placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, retroactive to July 19.

The Indians continue to envision Anderson as a long-term starting pitcher, though for now he’ll provide multi-inning relief in the bullpen.

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Indians in trade talks involving Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, per ESPN report

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 20, 2016

The Indians are one of several teams that will be looking to add a reliever prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline in search of help in the bullpen. They’re now also connected to one of the game’s best offensive catchers.

The Indians have engaged in discussions to acquire Milwaukee Brewers All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Lucroy, 30, is in the last year of a five-year contract with the rebuilding Brewers, though his deal includes a club option for 2017 valued at a reported $5.25 million. A two-time All-Star, Lucroy is often among the better offensive catchers in baseball. This season he’s hitting .305 with a .362 on-base percentage, 12 home runs, 16 doubles and 45 RBI. Per FanGraphs, he has a wRC+ of 123 in 2016 and a career mark of 111.

The Indians have struggled to receive any consistent offensive production from the catcher position this season. Yan Gomes, hitting .165, has struggled through the worst slump of his career and recently landed on the disabled list with a separated shoulder. He’s expected to miss 4-to-8 weeks.

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Indians C Yan Gomes out 4-to-8 weeks with AC joint separation; Roberto Perez activated

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 18, 2016

The Indians will be without Yan Gomes for the next month or two.

Gomes was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with an AC joint separation in his shoulder. He’s expected to mis 4-to-8 weeks.

Gomes became tangled running to first base in Sunday’s game in Minnesota and came down on his right shoulder. He had to be carted off the field.

The good news for the Indians is that his knee, which appeared to be twisted when he stepped on first base, checked out fine. It also appears as though he will avoid surgery.

Gomes has had an abysmal season at the plate, hitting .165 with eight home runs and 32 RBI. Recently, he had run into a wall of bad luck, lining out multiple times in Minnesota despite making hard contact.

While he wasn’t giving the Indians anything offensively, his work behind the plate and with the pitching staff had been a valued asset.

In his place, the Indians activated Roberto Perez from the 60-day disabled list. Perez has been out with a broken right thumb since he injured it April 30 and underwent surgery on May 6. Perez could likely start for many teams and his presence as the backup has been thought of as a quality insurance policy. That will now be put into place as it was last season when Gomes hurt his knee early in 2015.

Perez and Chris Gimenez will handle the catching duties with Gomes on the disabled list.

The club also called up left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett and sent pitcher Cody Anderson back to Triple-A Columbus.

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Indians OF Michael Brantley goes 0-for-3 in rehab start for Double-A Akron, ‘felt OK’

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 17, 2016

Indians outfielder Michael Brantley had a mostly uneventful day in his second rehab start with Double-A Akron on Sunday, his second appearance in the last three days.

Brantley played seven innings and went 0-for-3 at the plate, hitting routine ground balls each time. On the third, he reached on an error and later scored. He didn’t see action defensively in left field.

“I felt OK,” Brantley said. “I would have liked to get a couple more hits, that’d be nice. But getting the repetition down is important.”

Brantley was originally expected to play on Saturday after going 0-for-4 Friday night, but the trainers pulled him from the lineup. He’s still waiting until he can play back-to-back days, a key milestone in his recovery.

“It wasn’t my decision,” Brantley said of not playing Saturday. “My decision was to tell them how I feel every day and go by them like an everyday process. I felt OK, we just skipped a day.”

Brantley, along with Indians manager Terry Francona and the club, have used the word “excited” for his progress in his third attempt to stick in the everyday lineup.

“[It’s] more how I’ve responded every day waking up,” Brantley said. “I think that’s one of the biggest things for recovery time. That’s one of the things I kept fighting with [the first two times]. Just to be able to play baseball every day is very important.”

Brantley will still likely have multiple rehab appearances to make before he can return to Cleveland. Moving forward, his schedule is unclear and will continue to be updated on a day-to-day basis.

For now, the wait for a key piece in the middle of the Indians’ lineup continues.

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Indians place RP Tommy Hunter on DL, recall Cody Anderson, trade Ross Detwiler to Oakland

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 17, 2016

The Indians on Sunday placed relief pitcher Tommy Hunter on the 15-day disabled list and recalled Cody Anderson from Triple-A Columbus.

Hunter, per the club, is beginning his second stint on the DL with a non-baseball injury, retroactive to July 10. This year he has a 3.74 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings pitched.

Anderson gives the Indians’ bullpen some insurance as someone who can throw multiple innings for the time being. He has a 7.48 ERA this year as he’s tried to get back to where he was in 2015.

The Indians also announced that they have traded left-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler to the Oakland A’s for cash considerations. Detwiler will report to Triple-A.

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Indians mailbag on the trade deadline, Roberto Perez, the lineup and hot dog races

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 16, 2016

The Indians are beginning their push for the postseason in Minnesota this weekend following the All-Star Game festivities in San Diego.

They entered the break with a commanding 6.5-game lead in the American League Central division, a stark contrast from the previous few years in which the Indians had to fight and claw their way back into the race with a hot second half.

"I don't want to get too carried away, because we're still playing, and nobody has a crystal ball,” said Indians manager Terry Francona just before the break. “But, we've played ourself into a position where every single game we play from now on is fun as hell. And I don't doubt our guys will embrace it and see how good we can be. That's the whole idea. Nothing changes. We just don't have a huge hole to dig out of. That doesn't make any game less important. It makes it kind of more fun.”

Now, to the mailbag. Thank to those who submitted questions, especially this time around, as Florida, California, and Colorado were all represented. This will appear every few weeks. You can always submit questions via email to rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter to @RyanLewisABJ. Just include your first name, hometown and question.

Who should the Tribe be targeting to help their bullpen? How about Tony Cingrani (Reds) or highly-rated prospect Blake Snell (Rays)? — Bob, Boynton Beach, Florida (formerly Tallmadge)

Just about every contender could use back-end bullpen help, so the market could be busy. Of those two you listed, Cingrani is probably a better fit, though while the Reds could always use young assets these days, Cingrani is under club control through the 2019 season. They might not be in a rush to deal him. Snell would likely come with a hefty price tag. Many teams will be calling the New York Yankees to test the waters for Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller, two of the best relievers in baseball. Chapman is an impending free agent, while Miller makes $9 million a year through 2018. The Braves could have been looking to move Arodys Vizcaino, though he just landed on the disabled list. The Brewers have two relievers, Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress, who could help a contending bullpen, but both are under control through 2019 as well. All of the above could be had, but matching the asking prices is the question.

When catcher Roberto Perez is eligible to come off the DL do you envision him staying in Triple-A Columbus with catchers Yan Gomes and Chris Gimenez at the ML level? — Johnny, San Diego

Francona said recently that the Indians would prefer to have a tough decision rather than have one of them falter and make the decision easier. It looks like they’ll have a tough decision, barring something unforeseen. Perez would be starting for most teams and is a real asset as the backup to Gomes. Gomes has struggled and now is having a pretty crazy stretch of bad luck at the plate, but his management of the pitching staff has remained solid. Gimenez has been a key factor behind Trevor Bauer’s resurgence. It’d be tough for the Indians to take either out of a regular rotation, and Perez does have minor-league options remaining.

What will the plan be with Abraham Almonte once Michael Brantley returns? — Michael, Akron

It’d be an easy fit to see Almonte sent down to Triple-A Columbus once Brantley can return to the lineup. Almonte does have an option remaining and has struggled since being reinstated from a failed drug test, including two mental mistakes that proved costly before the break. That would also allow the bullpen to stay in-tact, and the Indians would have Brantley, Rajai Davis, Lonnie Chisenhall, Tyler Naquin and Jose Ramirez available in the outfield.

With the hopeful return of Dr. Smooth, could you see the Tribe moving Lindor to the leadoff spot and go Lindor/Kipnis/Napoli/Brantley with the S/L/R/L matchup? Love everything Lindor brings but just not quite enough pop for the 3-hole. — Lee, Colorado

Well I don’t think the Indians or Francona are concerned with whether a particular spot in the lineup has enough power compared to league average. Carlos Santana is having a solid season and brings more value the higher up the lineup he is considering how often he gets on base. Lindor has continued to hit well in the No. 3 spot and stayed there for the most part when Brantley—who started nine games hitting cleanup—returned for 11 games earlier this season. Probably the most likely inclusion of Brantley into this lineup would be in the No. 4 spot again, allowing the top to remain as is and sliding Napoli down a spot.

If Brantley comes back as good as new, should the Indians still go get another bat? — Lorenzo, Cleveland

If the Indians have confidence Brantley will come back as good as new, then that would essentially be the needed offensive addition fans have been wanting. A healthy Brantley would be a bigger upgrade over just about all of the available options otherwise. The question is how much can you really expect from Brantley down the stretch? It’s cast a shadow over any clear move the Indians can make to the lineup. Lonnie Chisenhall’s great play in the last month or so has also cast doubt, as he’s played right to the level fans would hope for in their right fielder. Brantley’s shoulder might be the bigger factor.

Who is the most dynamic hot dog in the hot dog races? — Cam, Los Angeles

Finally, a serious question. The easy answer is Ketchup considering his propensity for hijacks and creative racing (cheating). But the most dynamic might be Onion. Her purse has become a real weapon this season, and when used at the right times, it’s led to quite a few victories. It also seems like Slider has a beef with Ketchup, which also opens the door for Onion and Mustard.

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Jose Ramirez, Carlos Carrasco lift Indians to 5-2 win against Minnesota Twins

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 16, 2016

The Indians began their post-break series against the Minnesota Twins with a 5-2 victory Friday night.

Tied in the sixth, Jose Ramirez—sporting a new haircut—singled to score Francisco Lindor and put the Indians on top 3-2. Ramirez also singled home Lindor in the fourth and entered today with a .377 average with runners in scoring position, fourth in baseball.

Mike Napoli added his 19th home run of the season in the eighth inning.

Carlos Carrasco (6-3, 2.49 ERA) threw 6 2/3 innings, allowed two runs on four hits and struck out three. Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen (19th save) each tossed scoreless innings.

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Podcast: Previewing the second half of the Indians' season and talking trade deadline

By Dan Kadar Published: July 13, 2016
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The Cleveland Indians begin the second half of their season sitting at 52-36, with a solid lead in the American League's Central Division and one of baseball's best pitching staffs. So what's next for the Tribe?

MORE: Ryan Lewis - The good and the bad from Indians’ first half

On this week's Akron Beacon Journal and Ohio.com podcast, Indians beat writer Ryan Lewis checks in with his thoughts on the team. The hot first half of the season is thanks in large part to a starting rotation featuring potentially two Cy Young Award candidates, a young star on offense in Francisco Lindor, several reliable veterans and a few unexpected contributions. But can the Indians sustain this pace? Ryan explains what we should expect the rest of the season.

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Yankees 11, Indians 7: Ryan Lewis’ 14 Walk-Off Thoughts on defensive miscues, Tyler Naquin, more

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 10, 2016

Here are 14 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 11-7 loss to the New York Yankees. Note: These will be the last Walk-Off Thoughts for a few weeks until the Indians return later this month. As always, thank you for reading.

1. As the Indians were on their franchise-record 14-game winning streak, it looked like the All-Star break might be coming at an unfortunate time. As it turns out, the timing looks perfect.

2. The Indians had that 19-inning marathon in Toronto that tortured the bullpen and led to seven roster moves. Then they dropped three of four to the Yankees to enter the break. But more-so than just dropping three of four was the “how” of them.

3. The Indians committed a couple mental mistakes, some miscues, things that hadn’t been evident since they took off and charged ahead in the American League Central.

4. On Sunday, the Indians committed three errors and had a fourth misplay in right field. They weren’t all because of it, but all 11 Yankees runs scored after an Indians’ error.

5. When asked if these mistakes were uncharacteristic, Indians manager Terry Francona said, “I hope so. I hope so. We kicked some balls around, we made some mistakes and they took advantage of it.”

More: Indians OF Michael Brantley to begin rehab assignments; Danny Salazar won't pitch in All-Star Game

6. An error on Carlos Santana and a misplay in right field by Lonnie Chisenhall that was ruled a double but should have been caught—and might be changed to an error retroactively—eventually allowed a two-out, three-run home run to Jacoby Ellsbury.

7. That hurt. So did Jose Ramirez’s error in the fourth that let in another run. And surely so did Francisco Lindor’s blunder in the fifth. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Lindor fielded a grounder but couldn’t make up his mind. He looked to home and then tried to quickly throw it to second but instead tossed it into right field. Two runs scored on the play, and four more came after.

8. Said Francona, “Probably the biggest play was when Frankie caught the ball, we were supposed to go to the plate, he kind of froze and then decided to go to second and it ended up going into right field. That inning, the floodgates kind of opened. It seemed like everything that could go wrong did. I think they had 14 guys go to the plate.”



9. Through it all, Francona said earlier this week the Indians needed to “grind” until the break. It’s coming at a good time.

10. Said Francona, “I think the biggest thing right now, it’s good for everybody, but it’s really necessary for our bullpen. Our guys, again uncharacteristically, we had three short outings and then the one game was an extra-inning game. It’s huge. It’ll be good. We can get back in line, let guys take a deep breath. We looked a little raggedy there and we can’t play like that and win. Take advantage of the rest and, hopefully, come out of the chute with a little more of what we usually look like.”

11. Tyler Naquin, in his third stint in the big leagues this season, has legitimately put his name into the American League Rookie of the Year discussion. His .314 batting average leads all AL rookies and he has the most home runs for an Indians rookie before the break since Jody Gerut hit 10 in 2003.

12. On Sunday, Naquin belted his ninth of the year, all of them coming since June 1. Said Naquin, “It was extremely fun being with this team. The team chemistry, the players in this clubhouse make it fun. That's the bottom line. We've been winning a lot of baseball games, and I feel good about the first half.”



13. It was a poor day to end a strong first half for a team that in the Francona era has had to frantically try to make up ground in the second half of the season. For now, the Indians enjoy a comfortable lead in the American League Central.

14. Said Chisenhall, “It’s fun. We've always tried to push in August and September to make that run, to put pressure on people. We’re in a little different position right now where we can win some games, step on the gas pedal and stretch it farther. This second half's going to be important for us. We spent a lot of time on the road in June and we did well. The second half's going to be fun.”

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Indians’ defensive mistakes lead to 11-7 loss to New York Yankees; Indians enter break 52-36

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 10, 2016

The Indians’ defense faltered on the final day before the All-Star break in an 11-7 loss to the New York Yankees.

The Indians committed three errors and had a fourth missed catch that all proved costly. All 11 runs allowed followed an Indians error as the Yankees took advantage of extra opportunities.

Thus, the Indians will enter the break at 52-36, coming off a series in which they committed multiple mental mistakes and a couple defensive miscues, things that for the most part hadn’t been evident in their torrid first half.

“We kicked some balls around, we made some mistakes and they took advantage of it,” said Indians manager Terry Francona.

In the second inning, Carlos Santana couldn’t handle a Francisco Lindor throw across the diamond that scored a run to put the Yankees on top 1-0. Austin Romine then doubled to right field on a ball off Lonnie Chisenhall’s glove. Later, with two outs, Jacoby Ellsbury drilled a three-run home run to right-center field that made it 4-0.

A Jose Ramirez error in the fourth eventually led to a run that extended the Yankees’ lead to 5-1. The biggest one came an inning later with starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco (3 2/3 innings, five earned runs, five hits, four strikeouts) already out of the game.

With the bases loaded and nobody out, Chase Headley grounded a ball to Francisco Lindor. Lindor looked to home and then tried to quickly throw to second but instead tossed it into right field, allowing two runs to score. The Yankees followed with five singles and two sacrifice flies to to make it a six-run fifth inning. The latter four singles all came against TJ House, who relieved Jeff Manship.

Trailing 11-1, the Indians answered with a six-run inning of their own against Masahiro Tanaka. A Lindor RBI-double and Ramirez RBI-single made it 11-3 before the Indians took advantage of the first defensive mistake for the Yankees.

With two on, Rajai Davis grounded a ball to shortstop Didi Gregorius, who threw it away to score two and extend the inning. Tayler Naquin followed with his ninth home run of the season, a two-run shot, to make it 11-7.

But from there, the comeback halted, the defensive miscues too much to overcome.

“You can't play perfect baseball every single day,” Naquin said. “Nothing uncharacteristic at all. Errors are bound to happen. Strikeouts are bound to happen. Anything is bound to happen. That's all the way through baseball.”

It was a poor day to end a strong first half for a team that in the Francona era has had to frantically try to make up ground in the second half of the season. For now, the Indians enjoy a comfortable lead in the American League Central.

“It's fun. We've always tried to push in August and September to make that run, to put pressure on people,” Chisenhall said. “We're in a little different position right now where we can win some games, step on the gas pedal and stretch it farther. This second half's going to be important for us. We spent a lot of time on the road in June and we did well. The second half's going to be fun.”

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Yankees 7, Indians 6: Ryan Lewis’ 12 Walk-Off Thoughts on Francisco Lindor, Abraham Almonte

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 9, 2016

Here are 12 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 7-6 loss to the New York Yankees Saturday night.

1. The Indians had a chance to win it in the ninth. They had a chance to do what so few teams have been able to do and overtake the back-end of the Yankees’ bullpen, that being Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman.

2. Tied 6-6 and with two runners on base with nobody out after Francisco Lindor singled and Mike Napoli walked, Carlos Santana grounded a ball to the left side that Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley each went for. As Gregorius was about to field it, Lindor ran into Headley and was called out for interference.

3. Instead of potentially having the bases loaded with no outs, Lindor was the first out—worst case, the Indians have two runners in scoring position. Miller struck out Jose Ramirez and Chapman struck out Juan Uribe to end the inning.

4. Lindor and Indians manager Terry Francona argued that Headley wasn’t really in the play, and that Gregorius was fielding the ball.

5. Said Francona, “Tom Hallion said that you have to allow the fielder a chance to field it. I was just telling him I didn’t think that was the guy fielding the ball. I went back and looked at it because I wanted to make sure. I think Frankie was watching Gregorius and then the ball, and then he looked up late and saw the third baseman and hit him hard. I think because there was such severe contact, I think it kind of a leads an umpire into the call. I just didn’t think that was his play. He was telling me it was, but he didn’t have a chance. So I really disagree there. That’s what I was trying to tell him. When you go see this, you’re going to see that Gregorius called it and took it. But it’s unfortunate. Very unfortunate. I can also see why it got called. I just didn’t quite agree with it. … You try to tell guys, ‘Run with your head up,’ which he did. He’s watching the guy making the play. The guy that wasn’t making the play, he ran into. That was kind of the point.”



6. Here’s Lindor on the play: “Ground ball, I was looking at the ball. I started running towards third base looking at the ball. When I turned my head, I knew they weren’t going to get me at third, I looked and he was right there and boom, I hit him. … I was running, I was looking at the ball and then I turned because I knew they weren’t going to get me and he was right there. After I talked to the umpire, I guess I messed up. … He said the rule protects the fielder, you have to give them the room to catch the ball. He was in the way to catch the ball. He probably wasn’t going to get it, but as an umpire he has to protect the fielder because that’s what the rule says.”

More: The good and bad from the Indians' first half

7. The play that made it costly came in the 11th. With a runner on first, Brian McCann ripped a double to right field. Abraham Almonte misplayed it, trying to cut it off. It got by him, and he was slow playing it off the wall. It allowed Ronald Torreyes to score all the way from first and give the Yankees their winning 7-6 lead.

8. Said Francona, “We’re in no doubles. He got over-aggressive. There’s a reason we’re in no doubles, to [prevent them]. He’s just got to go get it. Because they don’t score [if he plays it better]. Again, that was another, we talk about paying attention to detail, we didn’t do that sometimes today and it cost us.”

More: Jason Kipnis pulling the ball with success in 2016

9. Almonte’s misplay is the second in three games after he didn’t see the ball trickle away from McCann in Friday’s loss that would have brought home the tying run. It’s been a rough stretch since he was reinstated after his failed drug test that cost him 80 games.

10. Jose Ramirez went 3-for-5 with three RBI singles Saturday night. He just keeps hitting and now has a .297 batting average with 37 RBI.

11. Salazar was roughed up for six runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. It wasn’t the ideal start heading into the All-Star break. Francona used the word “careless” to describe his outing.

12. Said Francona, “His stuff was good. I thought he was a little careless. 0-2 home run, a lot of 0-2 hits, threw a ball picking off first, probably the biggest play was when he tried to swat that ball going up the middle back-handed. Kip’s standing there, we’re out of the inning, and there’s no reason for him to do that, which we explained to him. I think the best word is a little bit careless.”

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Indians stumble in 11th, fall to Yankees 7-6

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 9, 2016

For the second time in three days, the Indians had to go through the brick wall that is the back end of the Yankees’ bullpen. This time, they were able to extend the game into extra innings but eventually fell once again in a 7-6 loss Saturday night.

With a runner on first and Tommy Hunter on the mound in the top of the 11th inning, Brian McCann ripped a double to right field that Abraham Almonte tried to cut it off but couldn’t and was delayed fielding the carom off the wall. That allowed pinch-runner Ronald Torreyes to score from first and put the Yankees on top 7-6.

Aroldis Chapman worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings to close the door on the Indians. In the bottom of the 11th, Jason Kipnis opened with a walk but was caught stealing for the second out and Mike Napoli struck out swinging to end the game.

Almonte’s misplay is the second in three games after he didn’t see the ball trickle away from McCann in Friday’s loss that would have brought home the tying run.

The Indians entered the seventh inning trailing 6-5 and having to go through the first leg of the Yankees’ three relief stalwarts Dellin Betances. Kipnis led off the inning with a double, and Jose Ramirez came through with his third RBI-single of the day to tie it 6-6.

The Indians had a chance to win it in the ninth but caught bad break. The Indians had two runners on with nobody out against Miller when Santana grounded a ball to the left side. As Didi Gregorius fielded it, Francisco Lindor ran into third basemen Chase Headley and was called out for interference. Instead of the bases being loaded with nobody out, Miller then struck out Jose Ramirez and Chapman struck out Juan Uribe.

Two innings later, the Yankees came away with the decisive blow.

The Indians twice grabbed early leads. In the first, Rajai Davis reached base after he was hit in the hand by a pitch, advanced to second with a sacrifice bunt, stole third base as catcher Brian McCann threw the ball back to starter CC Sabathia and scored on Santana’s RBI-single.

Following the first of two three-run innings for the Yankees, the Indians went ahead 4-3 in the third inning. Mike Napoli notched an RBI-single to left field, Santana drove in another with a double and Ramirez singled to right to score a third run.

The Yankees roughed up Danny Salazar in his final start before the All-Star break. Already with three runs across, the Yankees loaded the bases in the sixth to end Salazar’s day. With two outs, Dan Otero came on but allowed a bases-clearing triple to Brett Gardner, putting the Yankees up 6-5.

Salazar finished after 5 2/3 innings, allowed six runs on eight hits and struck out five.

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Indians 10, Yankees 2: Ryan Lewis’ 22 Walk-Off Thoughts on Mike Napoli’s mammoth home run, more

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 8, 2016

Here are 22 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 10-2 win against the New York Yankees.

1. Mike Napoli hit an absolute bomb of a home run Friday night, one of the most prodigious in Progressive Field history. Along with Jim Thome’s 511-foot home run to Eagle Avenue in 1999 and Mark McGwire’s awe-inspiring shot off the scoreboard in 1997, Napoli’s homer was one of the most impressive in park history.

2. Just about everyone knows John Adams, the drummer at Indians games, and where he sits, which is atop the bleachers in the middle section. It’s a long way away, and Napoli just about hit it right into the drum. The ball hit 1-2 rows from the scoreboard and on one hop hit the bottom of the scoreboard, just in front of Adams.

3. Per Statcast, it had an exit velocity of 107 feet, a launch angle of 32 degrees and traveled 460 feet. It’s the longest home run by an Indians hitter this season.

4. Said Napoli, “I got a pitch up in the zone. I swing hard. Just caught it perfect. I don’t know, it’s a good game all around. Got a good performance out of [Corey] Kluber. Good first inning from the boys, so it’s a good win for us. … To be honest you really don’t feel it off the bat. You just, I don’t know. I can’t really explain it.”

5. Indians manager Terry Francona couldn’t, either. He joked that Napoli barley hit it out and then added, “Wow. I mean, I don’t know how you hit a ball that far. Obviously I don’t. That was fun to watch.”

6. Indians second basemen Jason Kipnis brought up Mark Reynolds, and one of his blasts to the bleacher seats. Said Kipnis, “Oh my gosh. If you remember Reynolds, that was the farthest one that we've seen—since I've been here at least, and that was about the seventh row up from the top, or fifth row, and over one section. That was up near the drummer. We haven't even seen in BP one go there. That was a fun one to watch.”
 

TFW your boy @MikeNapoli25 hits the scoreboard (on a bounce).

WATCH the moonshot: https://t.co/UUCME64evS pic.twitter.com/QLXtHb5K4z

7. Here was Trevor Bauer’s reaction caught on TV, presented without comment.
 

Same, @BauerOutage. Same. https://t.co/ogbN5lGNbQ #Crushed pic.twitter.com/6Fyne7xSmj

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Indians crush New York Yankees 10-2 behind Mike Napoli’s 460-foot home run, Corey Kluber’s dominance

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 8, 2016

Three home runs in the first inning and five total. A prodigious blast that nearly hit the scoreboard. An ace performance. Friday night had just about everything for the home sellout crowd in the Indians’ 10-2 trouncing of the New York Yankees Friday night.

It was the third sellout at Progressive Field this season and the second one this week. Fans among the 34,045 who wanted to see some power got their money’s worth and then some.

The Indians led off the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back home runs against Yankees starter Chad Green (1-2, 7.04 ERA). Carlos Santana belted his 20th home run of the season to right field, which already bests his 2015 season total, and Jason Kipnis followed with his 13th of the year to center field. It marked the first time the Indians began a game with back-to-back home runs since Kosuke Fukudome and Kipnis did so on Sept. 22, 2011.

The Indians weren’t done in the first. With two outs and Francisco Lindor on first base, Lonnie Chisenhall drove a two-run shot to right field to put the Indians on top 4-0.

In the third, Mike Napoli hit one of the longest home runs in Progressive Field history. With Green still on the mound, Napoli crushed a two-run home run to the top of the bleacher seats in left field. It bounced once and hit the bottom of the scoreboard and nearly hit John Adams, the famous Indians drummer, who sits atop the bleachers in the middle section. Per Statcast, it measured 460 feet and is the longest home run by an Indians hitter this season.

Along with Jim Thome’s 511-foot home run to Eagle Avenue in 1999 and Mark McGwire’s awe-inspiring shot off the scoreboard in 1997, Napoli’s homer Friday night is one of the most impressive in park history.

Lindor missed a home run in the fifth by a few feet but settled for an RBI-double, and Napoli added an RBI-single to make it 8-0 Indians. In the sixth, Yan Gomes grounded out to score Juan Uribe, who doubled.

In the 7th, a final home run, as Kipnis added his second of the night, this one to right field. The five home runs as a team mark the most for the Indians (52-34) in a single game this season.

It was easily enough for recent All-Star selection Corey Kluber (9-8, 3.61 ERA), who allowed one run on five hits in eight innings to go with eight strikeouts. Yankees (42-44) catcher Brian McCann hit a solo home run for Kluber’s only blemish. In the ninth, Joe Colon made his major-league debut, allowing one run and striking out one.

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Indians’ Tyler Naquin still rolling as a rookie; Indians trade Michael Martinez to Boston

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 8, 2016

Indians rookie outfielder Tyler Naquin has to had to survive at the major-league level this season, in more ways than one.

Aside from adjusting to major-league pitching, he’s also had to deal with the realities of the Indians organizing their active 25-man roster and the restrictions that at times come with it. Naquin earned a spot on the Opening Day roster and was then demoted twice as the Indians balanced needs with his own performance, which had mostly come with positive reviews.

In his third stint, which began June 1, Naquin has been on a tear, perhaps enough to begin to put his name into the discussion for American League Rookie of the Year. In that time, he’s hitting .330 with eight home runs, 16 extra-base hits and 18 RBI and was named the AL Rookie of the Month in June.

“I think he’s more confident. I think he should be more confident,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I think he has some survival instincts. What I mean by that, sometimes when you’re young trying to survive, he’ll take a couple swings where you’re like, ‘Uh oh.’ And then he’ll shoot one out of the ballpark.”

Because of the construction of the Indians’ roster, Naquin has had to fight his way into the lineup on a regular basis. So far, he’s done it.

“For a kid that didn’t play right away, [against] the lefties at the beginning of the season, got sent down, he has been unbelievably productive,” Francona said. “It kind of gets exciting because we knew he was learning on the run, and you never quite know what a young player is going to be. We still don’t know what [he’ll become]. But it’s kind of been fun to watch.”

Martinez dealt

The Indians are still dealing with the ramifications of their 19-inning game with Toronto last week. Now, it’s cost them their utility man off the bench, a useful piece in Francona’s game-to-game management.

Utility man Michael Martinez was recently designated for assignment when the Indians needed to call up pitcher Shawn Morimando as the bullpen ran thin. On Friday, he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox for cash considerations.

Martinez was able to play nearly every position on the field and had enough speed to act as a pinch runner. It afforded Francona a wide range of options in the later innings of games. Jose Ramirez is a similar player but with him in the starting lineup every day, the Indians don’t have that kind of a tool coming off the bench.

“We got put in a bind,” Francona said. “He’s a really good guy to have around. He actually was doing pretty well numbers wise, but he’s better than his numbers, his ability to move around the diamond and pinch run and play defense and be a really good teammate. I don’t think anybody was happy about [losing him].”

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Yankees 5, Indians 4: Ryan Lewis’ 16 Walk-Off Thoughts on Trevor Bauer, facing Aroldis Chapman, more

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 7, 2016

Here are 16 Walk-Off Thoughts on the Indians’ 5-4 loss to the New York Yankees.

1. As a baseball observer, watching Aroldis Chapman pitch is marveling. He’s the guy the Indians had to come back against trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth. They made it interesting but came up short.

2. The sequence of pitches to Jose Ramirez was borderline unfair. Chapman threw three straight 103-mph fastballs—all three of which were fouled straight back—and then struck out Ramirez with a 90-mph slider that cut back over the plate. Facing Chapman is genuinely unique in a game that has some incredible pitching.

3. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller are top-of-the-line relievers as well. The Indians trailed 5-3 when Betances entered the game in the sixth inning. Coming back agains those three is one of the tougher things to do in baseball.

4. Said Indians manager Terry Francona, “You know going in that they’re some of the best in the league. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to win. I thought we had some really good at-bats, but it’s certainly challenging. Any team, when you get down late, it’s hard, but those two guys at the end are pretty special. Looking at like combined 11 walks and maybe 140 strikeouts. I thought we had some pretty good at-bats.”

5. Mike Napoli started the ninth with a walk and with one out, Juan Uribe singled off Chapman. Rajai Davis lined a ball to left field that was caught. Tyler Naquin then nearly beat out a ball hit to the right side of the infield that would have loaded the bases, but Starlin Castro’s throw beat him to the bag by half a step.

6. Said Francona, “Nap’s at-bats are always (good). … To take the walk… Uribe, really, after the first two pitches, he kind of dialed it up a little bit. We had a lineout to left. We had some good at-bats. Naquin, that’s his first at-bat (against Champman) and I don’t think he’s probably seen too many guys like that in Triple-A, so I thought they did a pretty good job.”

More: Indians SP Corey Kluber named to All-Star team as injury replacement; Zach McAllister placed on 15-day disabled list

7. Naquin had himself a good game that was nearly a great one. He hit a solo home run in the second inning that put the Indians on top 1-0. It was his eighth of the season. Down 5-4, he singled with two outs in the seventh and stole second base to put the tying run in scoring position.

8. That brought up pinch-hitting Abraham Almonte, who struck out and didn’t see the ball trickle away from Brian McCann. If he does see it, he would have been easily safe at first. Naquin, in a head’s-up play, saw that Betances wasn’t covering home and rounded. Instead of an inning-ending strikeout, if Abraham sees the ball, the Indians tie it 5-5.

9. Said Almonte, “It was a curveball down. When I swung, I was a little bit up the line. I didn't figure out right away that he dropped the ball, so I picked it up a little bit late.”

10. Said Francona, “If he sees it, he’s safe at first. Naquin did a great job of base-running. If he sees it, he gets there easily and it would be first and third and we still got a chance, which would be great. Perfect world, he saw it just a hair sooner, we get the call at first and Naquin scores.”

11. Either way, Naquin is building a legitimate American League Rookie of the Year candidacy. He’s had some ups and downs in center field defensively, but he’s consistently hit above .300 and even .320 and now has added some power to go with it. If Almonte sees the ball or Castro’s throw is a step slower, he would have had a much louder game.

12. Trevor Bauer was hit around, but mostly on singles back up the middle. The Yankees tied it 2-2 in the fifth and then took a 5-2 lead in the sixth on four singles and a sacrifice fly.

13. Bauer isn’t always in the best mood—somewhat understandably—after a loss or a poor outing. Thursday night was the quietest he’s been, limiting his answers to 40 words on four questions.

14. Said Bauer, “Gave up a lot of weak singles. …  Throw it right where I did (on the home run allowed). … Best stuff and command I’ve had in a long time for the whole game. … Yeah because we lost. We haven’t lost a whole lot when I’m pitching.”

15. It was the first time in several outings Bauer didn’t throw a terrific outing. He had built momentum. He was visibly frustrated on the mound as single after single went by him and into center field.

16. Francona liked what he saw in the first three innings, saying, “They were really sharp, good innings. They were aggressive with his fastball and it looked like too many fastballs caught too much of the plate, probably elevated a little bit too. They came kind of in a hurry. He was really good early. I don’t think Trevor tires and things like that because his arm is in such good shape. I thought it was mostly fastballs that were catching too much.”

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Indians fight back but fall to New York Yankees 5-4

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 7, 2016

Trying to erase a deficit in the latter innings isn’t easy against any team. Doing it against the New York Yankees this season has proven to be nearly impossible.

The Indians tried to fight that uphill battle but came up just short in a 5-4 loss Thursday night.

The Indians entered the sixth inning trailing 5-2. Facing Yankees starter Ivan Nova (6-5, 5.18 ERA), Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis led off the inning with back-to-back doubles. A wild pitch made it 5-3, but Francisco Lindor grounded out to first base and couldn’t get Kipnis home from third.

Enter Dellin Betances, the first piece to the Yankees’ three-headed bullpen monster. He induced Mike Napoli to ground out to third, this time scoring Kipnis, and then struck out Jose Ramirez to end the inning with the lead in-tact.

In the seventh, Tyler Naquin—who homered earlier in the game—singled and stole second with two outs to put the tying run in scoring position. Betances then struck out pinch-hitting Abraham Almonte for the third out. The ball trickled away from catcher Brian McCann, but Almonte didn’t realize it in time. Naquin would have come all the way around to score, but McCann’s throw beat Almonte by the step to end the seventh.

Andrew Miller worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning. In the ninth, the Indians made it interesting against Aroldis Chapman and his 103-mph fastball.

Mike Napoli walked and with one out, Juan Uribe singled to put two on for Rajai Davis, who drove a ball to left field that was caught by Brett Gardner. With two outs, Naquin lined a ball that was stopped by first basemen Mark Teixeira. Second basemen Starlin Castro picked it up and threw to first, beating Naquin by a half-step to end the game.

Earlier, the Indians (51-34) had taken a 2-0 lead but fell behind, putting them in the unenviable position of overtaking the Yankees’ bullpen.

Naquin put the Indians up 1-0 in the third inning with a solo home run to right-center field, his eighth of the season, to continue his American League Rookie of the Year bid. Three batters later, Jason Kipnis drove his 12th home run of the season, another solo shot, to center field. He hit nine home runs all of last year.

The Yankees (42-43) tied it in the fifth and took the lead in the sixth against Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (7-3, 3.30 ERA). Didi Gregorius, who was involved in the trade that brought Bauer to Cleveland, sent a solo shot to right field to make it 2-1. After two singles, Gardner tied it with a single of his own up the middle.  

In the sixth, three consecutive singles, the last by Chase Headley, put the Yankees on top 3-2. Rob Refsnyder’s sacrifice fly scored another run and ended Bauer’s day in favor of Dan Otero. Jacoby Ellsbury singled off Otero to cap the Yankees’ scoring and put them on top 5-2.

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SP Corey Kluber named to All-Star team as injury replacement; Indians now have three All-Stars

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 7, 2016

The Indians will now have three representatives at next week’s All-Star game in San Diego, as starting pitcher Corey Kluber has been named to the American League team as an injury replacement.

Kluber will be replacing Toronto’s Marco Estrada, who has been placed on the 15-day disabled list. It’s the first All-Star selection for Kluber, the 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner.

“It was definitely an honor,” Kluber said. “I think anybody that plays baseball, pays attention to baseball grew up watching the All-Star Game. It’s something that everybody has paid attention to over the years. And to be able to experience one first-hand will be a pretty cool experience.”

This season Kluber 8-8 with a 3.79 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 114 innings pitched, but like last season, his advanced statistics have remained solid. Among qualified starters, his 2.96 FIP leads the AL, per FanGraphs. He’s also tied for the AL lead with 3.1 WAR, along with Chicago’s Jose Quintana.

“I think it's nice that, one, for Klubes personally I think it's awesome,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I think it kind of shows that the league is recognizing his body of work, not just this year, but the last two years. I think if you look at his peripheral numbers, he's at the top of the league in a number of categories. And I'm glad that it was recognized.”

Kluber will be making the trip to San Diego with shortstop Francisco Lindor and fellow starting pitcher Danny Salazar, meaning 40-percent of the Indians’ starting rotation will be represented.

“I think Danny and I were the two fortunate enough to be selected, but I think [you] could have made a case for anybody,” Kluber said. “I think with what the starting staff has been able to—and really the pitching staff as a whole has been able to do so far this year has been really impressive. I think we’re definitely looking to not just do it for a half year, but to continue to do it for the entirety of the season.”

Bullpen moves

The Indians on Thursday placed relief pitcher Zach McAllister on the 15-day disabled list with right hip discomfort and optioned Mike Clevinger back to Triple-A Columbus. In their places, relievers Austin Adams and Joe Colon were promoted.

McAllister felt discomfort while warming up in Toronto last weekend. He has dealt with this before, and with the All-Star break upcoming, the Indians wanted to take advantage of the timing of it.

“I don't think it's anything that we thought was necessarily like a 15-day, but with the All-Star break coming, we can use that to our advantage,” Francona said. “Let him rest up for a couple days, get him some side days, because we need to get him back to pitching the way he can. He's important in our bullpen and that's become a little bit inconsistent, so we can use this to our advantage.”

McAllister has had some strong stretches of scoreless appearances but has also had some big innings, like his past two appearances in which he’s given up seven earned runs in 1 1/3 innings. Overall this season he owns a 5.40 ERA and 1.613 WHIP in 26 2/3 innings pitched. Now, with the hip injury, the Indians will allow him to rest for about two weeks.

“It just kind of flared up on me and [I haven’t been] able to pitch the way I expect to,” McAllister said. “Better off nipping it in the bud now than let it [be] something that lingers.”

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SP Corey Kluber named to All-Star team as injury replacement; Indians now have three All-Stars

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 7, 2016

The Indians will now have three representatives at next week’s All-Star game in San Diego, as starting pitcher Corey Kluber has been named to the American League team as an injury replacement.

Kluber will be replacing Toronto’s Marco Estrada, who has been placed on the 15-day disabled list.

This season Kluber 8-8 with a 3.79 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 114 innings pitched, but like last season, his advanced statistics have remained solid. Among qualified starters, his 2.96 FIP leads the AL, per FanGraphs. He’s also tied for the AL lead with 3.1 WAR, along with Chicago’s Jose Quintana.

It’s the first All-Star selection for Kluber, the 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner.

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Indians’ streaks against Tigers, at home come to an end in 12-2 loss

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 6, 2016

If records were meant to be broken, then streaks were meant to end. On Wednesday afternoon, the Indians lost a hold on two winning streaks in a 12-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers.

The loss snapped an 11-game winning streak against the Tigers in 2016 and a 13-game home winning streak.

Prior to it, the Indians had dominated the Tigers in the first 11 games to the tune of  a run differential of +53 (77-24). The Tigers finally got to the Indians then some on Wednesday.

“They out-played us today,” said Francisco Lindor. “They played better than us. That’s pretty much it. Every other time we played, we played better than them. Today, they played better than us. They hit more than us, they out-pitched us, they played defense better than us. That’s pretty much it.”

Indians starting pitcher Josh Tomlin was perfect through three innings before his outing became unraveled in the fourth and fifth innings. With the Indians leading 2-0, the Tigers took the lead in the fourth and then kept piling on.

Cameron Maybin hit a two-run home run off the foul pole in the fourth to tie it 2-2. Later Justin Upton put the Tigers on top with a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Victor Martinez, who doubled.

Things got worse in the fifth after Tomlin started the inning with two strikeouts. Miguel Cabrera singled home two runs to make it 5-2 and Nick Castellanos delivered the knockout blow a few batters later, belting a three-run home run over the wall in center field to end Tomlin’s day.

The Tigers added on in the seventh against Zach McAllister and TJ House to the tune of four more runs via two-run hits by Castellanos and Steven Moya, all charged to McAllister.

The Indians took an early lead against Tigers starter Michael Fulmer on sacrifice flies by Lonnie Chisenhall in the second and Lindor in the third. But that was all the Indians could muster as the Tigers, for the first time this season, looked like the Tigers of 2013-15 against the Indians.

“The team has played very consistent,” Lindor said of the 11-game streak. “We were very consistent the whole year. I’m happy for that. We have a long way to go still. We have to continue to pound the strike zone, hit the good pitches, play defense, continue to do the small things. At the end of the year, we’ll see how we do.”

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Indians 12, Tigers 1: Ryan Lewis’ 13 Walk-Off Thoughts on another demolition of Detroit, more

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 6, 2016

Here are 13 Walk-Off Thoughts on the Indians’ 12-1 win against the Detroit Tigers Tuesday night.

1. The Indians are now 11-0 against the Tigers. They have a run differential in those 11 games of +53 (77-24). It’s the Indians’ longest streak against the Tigers since they won 12 straight in 1996. It ties the longest streak of one team over another in the majors with the Mets’ 11 straight wins against the Reds.

2. The Tigers had some control over the Indians the last few years, but never as severe as this. The trend hasn’t just been stopped, it’s been flipped. Power has shifted Quite simply, the Indians are just pounding the Tigers, something that probably still feels odd to Cleveland fans. The power has shifted from one clubhouse across the diamond to the other.

3. Tigers starter Justin Verlander had a pretty good sense of humor about it.

4. Indians manager Terry Francona, true to form, doesn’t put any stock in it. He often talks about how he doesn’t commit time to thinking about things that don’t have a direct impact on games. “I’m not sure that’s helpful” is often his reasoning for not worrying about one thing or another.

5. Said Francona, “I don’t spend any time. Once we processed yesterday, we move on. Let alone a month ago. It doesn’t really matter. You play the next game and try to win. If you do it good enough guys like you start asking those kind of questions. But I don’t spend much energy on it.”

6. The Tigers are 44-29 in games not against the Indians. It’s a similar situation they put the Indians in the last couple years, trying to chase down the other teams in the AL Central and Wild Card chase while having to overcome a severe deficit to one team.

7. The Indians also have a 13-game home winning streak in progress, their longest since they won 14 straight in 2011.

More: Indians OF Michael Brantley feels 'stronger,' excited about progress; Larry Doby honored

8. Lonnie Chisenhall has been terrific for the Indians the past couple weeks. He had four hits, two doubles and three RBI Tuesday night. He’s now hitting .311 this season and .474 in the past 10 days with three home runs and 10 RBI. He’s been the exactly the type of hitter in right field many fans have been wanting to add at the deadline.

9. Said Francona, “He’s not just getting hits, he’s driving the ball. When you got him and Naquin sitting down towards the bottom not just getting hits but being productive it really makes a difference for us. I thought Nap going first to third kind of set up that whole inning. The way he sets the tone. He’s not our fastest base runner but he’s such a good, aggressive base runner. It really helps.”

10. Francisco Lindor earned his first All-Star bid Tuesday night, and he really is that good. He made two more highlight reel plays to add to the list. On one, he made his trademark diving stop and throw to beat Justin Upton to the bag and end the sixth.

11. On the other, with two on base, a grounder was fielded by Jason Kipnis and thrown to Lindor at second base for the second out. Realizing he didn’t have a play at first, Lindor turned the other way and fired to third to nab the lead runner and end the inning.

12. It was one of the best examples of how Lindor’s feel for the game is well beyond his years. Said Lindor, “As soon as the ball was hit, I could sense Moya starting to run. And then he stopped and kind of went back a little bit. I felt him. I didn’t see him. But I felt something. As soon as I felt that, I wasn’t going to throw to first base. It didn’t matter if I got him out there, I wasn’t going to throw to first base. Plus, he was out front, and I know Iglesias runs pretty good. As soon as I caught it, I swung to third and I wasn’t expecting him to be halfway when I turned. That made it a little bit better for me.”

13. Said Francona, “Frankie’s awareness on the field, that was a big play. At the time it was first and second and nobody out then all of sudden you look up and the inning is over. That was a really heads up play. It shows you how he sees the field.”

More: Danny Salazar, Francisco Lindor named to All-Star team

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Indians demolish Detroit Tigers 12-1, improve to 11-0 against Detroit this season

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 5, 2016

It appears as though the Indians have taken three years of frustration and tightly packed the redemption for it into 11 games.

The Indians pounded the Tigers yet again on Tuesday night, this time by a score of 12-1. They are now 11-0 against the Tigers this season, the longest winning streak within a year since they won 12 straight against Detroit in 1996 and the longest active streak of any team over another in the American League.

Many of these 11 wins, like Tuesday night’s, have been beat-downs—the Indians have now out-scored the Tigers 77-24, a complete reversal of pre-2016 trends.

The Indians (51-32) had four multi-run innings within the first six. In the second inning, Rajai Davis doubled home a run off Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez (5-9, 6.52 ERA) and was followed by Tyler Naquin, who grounded out but scored Lonnie Chisenhall, who had singled.

Chisenhall made it 3-0 in the fourth with an RBI-double and with Jose Ramirez on third, Davis extended the lead to 4-0 with a sacrifice fly to center field.

The Indians kept piling on. The fifth included an RBI-double by Francisco Lindor, a run-scoring groundout by Ramirez and Chisenhall’s second RBI-double in as many innings, putting the Indians up 7-0.

Naquin belted his seventh home run of the season, a solo shot, to begin the sixth. After three consecutive walks issued by Buck Farmer, Mike Napoli singled home a run and Ramirez scored another on a fielder’s choice.

In the eighth, Carlos Santana added a solo home run, his team-leading 19th of the season, which matches his 2015 home run total. Chisenhall also collected his fourth hit of the game, an RBI-single to right.

Lindor, who was selected to his first All-Star team Tuesday night, added some defensive highlights as well. With two on in the fifth, Jose Iglesias grounded to Jason Kipnis, who made a nice stop, turned and threw to Lindor at second base for the second out of the inning. Realizing he didn't have a play at first, Lindor turned and fired to third to nail the lead runner and end the inning. Lindor also ended the sixth with a diving stop and throw to beat Justin Upton to first base, another in a long line of 2016 highlights.

Carlos Carrasco (5-2, 2.47 ERA) tossed six innings, allowed one run on only three hits and struck out three, earning the easy victory as the Indians yet again crushed Tigers (44-40) pitching.

Mike Clevinger threw two scoreless innings after being called up Monday.
 

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Indians SP Danny Salazar, SS Francisco Lindor named to American League All-Star team

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 5, 2016

The Indians will have two representatives at next week’s All-Star Game in San Diego, as starting pitcher Danny Salazar and shortstop Francisco Lindor were named to the American League team.

It’s the first All-Star selection for both players. Salazar and Lindor each needed the player
selections to be named to the team as reserves after the fans voted in the starters.
Salazar is among the Cy Young Award candidates in the AL. He’s 10-3 this season with an AL-best 2.36 ERA and is third in the league in both K/9 rate (10.27) and FIP (3.30), per FanGraphs.

The Indians’ rotation has carried them to the second-best record in the AL, and Salazar has been the most dominant of the group, eclipsing Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco in several categories.

Lindor entered Tuesday eighth in the AL among qualified position players with 3.3 WAR, second at his position behind Boston’s Xander Bogaerts. Lindor is hitting .299 with 10 home runs, 15 doubles, 41 RBI and 13 stolen bases while leading qualified AL shortstops in defensive runs saved with nine. Still only 22 years old, Lindor this season has built on a terrific rookie year and established himself as one of the best all-around players in the game.

It’s the first time the Indians have had two All-Stars in the same season who are developed in-house since 2007, when CC Sabathia and Victor Martinez each earned selections. It’s also an acknowledgement for two of the Indians’ core pieces who are both controllable for the foreseeable future.

The All-Star Game, which decides home-field advantage in the World Series, will take place July 12th.

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Indians OF Michael Brantley takes batting practice, is ‘stronger,’ excited with progress

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 5, 2016

Indians outfielder Michael Brantley hopes this time, things are different. Right now, it feels different, which is the most positive news he’s had in quite some time.

Brantley is attempting, for the third time, to return to the Indians’ lineup and stay in it following offseason shoulder surgery and twice being shut down due to soreness. To date, he’s logged only 11 regular season games and two Cactus League games this season.

Brantley, now on the 60-day disabled list, took batting practice at Progressive Field prior to Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Tigers. The feedback was all positive, a hopeful sign that the third attempt is the last following two anti-inflammatory shots, two opinions on his shoulder, biceps tendonitis and a lost first half to the regular season.

“I just know I’m stronger,” Brantley said. “I did a lot of rehab, a lot of strengthening exercises and I know how I’m bouncing back every day. I know how my body feels. I’m in a great position. I feel great. I’m very excited to come back and help this team in a positive way.”

Brantley’s progress with his shoulder has been the underlying question surrounding this season as the Indians have responded by jumping out to their biggest lead in the American League Central (6.5 games entering Tuesday) this late in the season since 1999.

“That's a nice step for him to get on the field and hit,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “Once they diagnosed what was going on, he had been working so hard with that shoulder that he's pretty strong. I think that was probably the best news we could have ever received when he got the diagnosis [biceps tendonitis], got the shot, cleared it up and now he can go about his business and return to action. We'll see how long that takes. We need to still use good judgment, because he's been down a long time.”

Honored

Indians great Larry Doby, who broke the color barrier in the American League only weeks after Jackie Robinson did so for baseball, has been nominated to receive the Congressional Gold Medal in a bill cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Jim Renacci (R-OH) and Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ).

The bill, titled the Larry Doby Congressional Gold Medal Act, seeks to posthumously award him the medal that represents Congress’ highest expression of national appreciation. Robinson was awarded it in 2003.

"Baseball before Larry Doby and Jackie Robinson was informally segregated,” Rep. Renacci said in a statement. “While Jackie Robinson was the first African American player in the National League, the Cleveland Indians made Larry Doby the first in the American League, forever changing the face of baseball. Not only did Doby wear an Indians’ uniform proudly in the franchise’s last World Series win in 1948, but he wore our nation’s uniform while he served in the Navy during WWII.  I am pleased to join my friend and colleague Rep. Pascrell in introducing this legislation to honor Larry Doby for the great strides he made for the game of baseball and the civil rights movement in the United States. Go Tribe!"

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Indians 5, Tigers 3: Ryan Lewis’ 14 Walk-Off Thoughts on Mike Napoli, Danny Salazar, beating Detroit

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 5, 2016

Here are 14 Walk-Off Thoughts on the Indians’ 5-3 win against the Detroit Tigers Monday night (Tuesday morning).

1. The Indians took down the Tigers again and are now 10-0 against Detroit this season. It’s the longest winning streak over the Tigers in a single season since the Indians won 12 straight in 1996. It’s also the longest active winning streak in the majors involving any team over another.

2. The Indians’ 12-game home winning streak is the longest since they won 14 straight at Progressive Field in 2011. And it’s the longest home winning streak in a season for any team since Arizona won 15 consecutive home games, also in 2011.

3. A lot has been made about attendance at Progressive Field. But in recent weeks, and especially during the Cavaliers’ run to the title, the Indians have noticed the increased support at games.

4. Said Mike Napoli, “It’s a good time to be in Cleveland right now. We got to be here for the parade and when they clinched. It was exciting to see the fans out there and really excited about it. Hopefully, it keeps up because it definitely helps us out to be able to play in front of a lot of fans, just the adrenaline being out there.”

5. And said Danny Salazar, “That was amazing. That was great—all the fans here. I wish the game would've started earlier at 7, so everybody could watch the game. I know a lot of people left, because they have to work tomorrow. But, we really appreciate that. It's great every time we have a crowd like that.”

6. Monday’s sellout crowd had to wait more than two hours for this one to start due to rain. To just about everyone’s credit, the stadium still looked pretty full at the 9:31 p.m. first pitch. And it appeared as though most stayed well into Tuesday morning for the final out.

More: Indians make bullpen moves after 19-inning game, rough weekend in Toronto; Michael Brantley 'excited' about progress

7. It was Napoli’s bat that sent them home happy. Tied 3-3 in the seventh, Napoli crushed a two-run home run off Bruce Rondon to the bleacher seats in left field. Per Statcast, it had an exit velocity of 109 mph, a launch angle of 32 degrees and a distance of 430 feet. It landed two-thirds up the bleachers, and it was the difference Tuesday morning (that term isn’t used often).

8. Said Napoli, “I went down there and looked at it on video to just see what my hands did. He throws pretty hard, so I was just trying to stay short to the ball, drive it gap to gap. My hands just reacted and caught it right.”



9. It’s the kind of power the Indians have enjoyed with Napoli this season. He’s already hit 17 home runs in 76 games after the hit 18 home runs in 133 games last season, to go with a team-leading 55 RBI. To date, he’s been exactly what the Indians had hoped they would get in their free-agent signee and middle-of-the-order first basemen.

10. Said Indians manager Terry Francona, “He had taken some good swings in his previous at bats. He hit that double. Even that at-bat he struck out he took some pretty good swings. Man it’s nice because he’s done that so many times. We don’t live by the home run a ton but when he’s up, I mean that’s why he’s here. We certainly try not to run into out because we like to get to him and let him take three good swings.”

11. And Napoli was asked after the game where the party was. “It's at Napoli’s for sure.”

12. Danny Salazar cruised until Steven Moya and Nick Castellanos each hit home runs off of him to tie it 3-3. They both came off of his split-change, which has become one of the best pitches in the game.

13. Said Salazar, “Not command [as the problem]. I was throwing it for a strike the whole game, actually. Sometimes I was trying to throw it down. Even when I struck out Victor Martinez, I was trying to throw the pitch down. I was just leaving it up for a strike the whole time.”

14. Said Francona, “Really good stuff. He left a changeup up for the home run that kind of change the game a little bit. He had some traffic but pitched out of it. Then just left one up to Castellanos and he hit it a long way and that kind of changed things. I thought he got a little bit tired. Not that he had warmed up but he had gone out and thrown before then we had to sit for awhile. He was at 96 or 98 and we thought that was enough. [Jeff Manship] did a great job. He came in and got outs. He finished the inning and then went out and had a nice inning. That was really big for us, to have a chance to regroup so when Nap hit the home run it was meaningful.”

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Mike Napoli lifts Indians to 5-3 win against Detroit Tigers with seventh-inning home run

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 5, 2016

Fans at Progressive Field had to wait until Tuesday morning to see it, but Mike Napoli delivered one of the loudest home runs of the season and lifted the Indians to a 5-3 win against the Detroit Tigers.

Monday’s sellout on July 4th was delayed two hours and 21 minutes due to rain. As the clock ticked over to Tuesday, the Indians and Tigers were still tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning.

With Francisco Lindor on first after a walk, Napoli crushed a Bruce Rondon offering 430 feet two-thirds of the way up the bleacher seats in left field to break the deadlock and put the Indians up 5-3. Per Statcast, Napoli’s 17th home run of the season had an exit velocity of 109 mph and a launch angle of 32 degrees.

Bryan Shaw worked into and then out of trouble in the eighth, holding that two-run lead. Miguel Cabrera singled and Victor Martinez walked, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate with no outs. Shaw induced Nick Castellanos into a 4-6-3 double play and then ended the inning by getting Justin Upton to fly out to right field.

In the ninth, Cody Allen closed the door and earned his 18th save of the season. The game ended on a 4-6-3 double play which required an Indians' review after Jose Iglesias was called safe.

Danny Salazar threw 5 2/3 innings, allowed three runs on eight hits and struck out six. Jeff Manship came on in relief and threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

The Indians (50-32) took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Carlos Santana’s RBI-single off Tigers starter Daniel Norris that followed Napoli’s double to center field. That lead was pushed to 2-0 in the third after Norris had to leave the game with an injury in favor of Dustin Molleken, making his major-league debut. Rajai Davis walked, advanced to third on Jason Kipnis’ double and scored on the first of two Francisco Lindor sacrifice flies to center field.

Salazar cruised for four innings until Steven Moya belted a solo home run to bring the Tigers to within 2-1. In the bottom half of the third, the Indians answered with Lindor’s second sacrifice fly, again scoring Davis, who singled to right field.

The Tigers (44-39) finally tied it in the sixth. A single by Martinez was followed by Castellanos, who drove a two-run home run off Salazar to left field to knot it up 3-3.

That was prior to the calendar flipping over to Tuesday, and Napoli’s two-run shot being the difference.

With the win, the Indians improved to 10-0 against the Tigers this season.

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Indians shake up bullpen after 19-inning marathon in Toronto; Michael Brantley ‘genuinely excited’

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 4, 2016

Having a 19-inning game within a 162-game season has ramifications on a pitching staff. On Monday, the Indians’ bullpen felt the brunt of those consequences.

Needing fresh arms available to log multiple innings, the Indians designated relief pitchers Joba Chamberlain and Tom Gorzelanny for assignment and called up pitchers Michael Clevinger and TJ House.

The Indians beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 on Friday but needed 19 innings to do it. Saturday’s scheduled starter, Trevor Bauer, ended up getting the win by throwing five scoreless innings. It led to the Indians having to piece together Saturday’s game with Zach McAllister getting the start and Shawn Morimando getting called up from the minors at the expense of utility man Michael Martinez. Sunday’s game also didn’t go as planned, as Corey Kluber was hit hard and catcher Chris Gimenez had to throw two innings.

It effectively made Chamberlain and Gorzelanny casualties of the bullpen’s situation heading into the final homestead before the All-Star break.

“[It was] kind of the fall-out or the ramifications when you play a 19-inning game,” Francona said. “You try to wait and hope [on Sunday] with Kluber you’d go deep. Well, that didn’t happen.”

Chamberlain had been a strong investment by the Indians, turning a non-roster invite to spring camp into 20 solid innings of relief with a 2.25 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. Gorzelanny logged only three innings for the Indians, allowing seven runs. He wasn’t able to make a large impact in the Indians’ bullpen, especially with such a short timeframe, though Chamberlain had certainly earned his spot.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if both of them get claimed,” Francona said. “And I hope they do, for their sake. They deserve it.”

Clevinger returns to the Indians hoping to improve upon his three major league starts in May in which he posted an 8.79 ERA. In Triple-A Columbus, he’s 8-0 with a 2.79 ERA in 13 starts. For the upcoming week, Clevinger will appear out of the bullpen and then possibly return to being starting depth in the minors.

“I think it can be good for him to pitch out of the bullpen for a week,” Francona said. “We also think that one: He can help us in the bullpen, because he’s certainly stretched out and two: He might be a guy down the road that can help us win some games in the bullpen.”

House began the year in Triple-A Columbus as a starter but was recently converted to the bullpen with better results. Acting as a reliever, he has a 2.16 ERA in 8 1/3 innings pitched.

“For whatever reason, things have really kicked up,” Francona said. “So, we want to get a look. It’s another guy that can give us some length because he’s been stretched out. We really want to be cognizant of that.”

Positivity

The Indians are still without outfielder Michael Brantley as he rehabs his surgically repaired non-throwing shoulder. He recently received a second anti-inflammatory shot and sought a second opinion.

Now that the team is back from the road trip, there are some positive vibes surrounding his situation.

“We finally got our eyes on him [Monday], which was nice. He’s really excited,” Francona said. “He’s genuinely excited about where he’s at. I’m looking forward to seeing this. I think for a while there he was cautiously optimistic, which I get. I think right now he feels pretty good. Just the look on his face, it’s good to see him feel like that.”

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Indians OF Abraham Almonte reinstated, added to active 25-man roster

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 3, 2016

Indians outfielder Abraham Almonte has been reinstated from the restricted list and added to the active 25-man roster.

Almonte has been serving an 80-game suspension for failing a drug test that revealed performance-enhancing drugs. Sunday was the first day he was eligible to be reinstated.

To make room on the 25-man roster, the Indians optioned pitcher Shawn Morimando to Triple-A Columbus. Morimando was called up on Saturday to pitch after the Indians’ game on Friday in Toronto went 19 innings and Saturday’s scheduled starter, Trevor Bauer, was needed for five innings.

The Indians had designated utility man Michael Martinez for assignment to make room for Morimando, creating a need for Almonte.

In order to add Almonte to the 40-man roster, the Indians have also transferred Michael Brantley to the 60-day disabled list.

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Indians SP Danny Salazar, rookie OF Tyler Naquin awarded for strong June performances

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 2, 2016

The Indians were baseball’s hottest team in June, going 22-6 and ending the month with a 13-game winning streak that was extended to a franchise-record 14 games on Friday.

On Saturday, Indians starting pitcher Danny Salazar was named American League Pitcher of the Month and outfielder Tyler Naquin was named AL Rookie of the Month, two individual accolades resulting from a torrid month of baseball.

Salazar went 5-0 in June with an ERA of 1.91 and 35 strikeouts in 33 innings pitched to further his case as one of the top contenders for the AL Cy Young Award.

Paquin, always fighting for his spot on the active 25-man roster, has continued to hit well, posting a .338 average and .434 on-base percentage. He also hit the first six home runs of his career and his 1.219 OPS led the AL in June.

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Indians set franchise record with 14th straight win in 19 innings, beat Blue Jays 2-1

By Ryan Lewis Published: July 1, 2016

The Indians set a new franchise record in a wild 19-inning, 2-1 win against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday that extended their current winning streak to 14 games.

The Indians and Blue Jays at one point went 12 innings without scoring a run. For the Indians, Josh Tomlin threw six innings and was followed by every reliever in the bullpen with the exception of Cody Allen.

For the last five innings, the Indians deployed Saturday’s scheduled starter Trevor Bauer, who delivered five shutout innings.

In the 18th and 19th, the Blue Jays pitched position players. Ryan Goins got out of a jam in the 18th, but Carlos Santana finally came away with the game-winning home run in the 19th against Darwin Barney.

The game took six hours and 13 minutes. And the Indians still haven’t lost since the Cavaliers won Game 6.

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